It’s no secret that our elected representatives, especially high-ranking ones, do not read the vast majority of their mail. They simply don’t have the time, so they employ staff to reply to the letters and emails and summarize the general mood in the public. But when a provincial professional organization writes to the Premier about an issue that has caused much public outrage, don’t you think he should have a little look? Apparently not. According to a story (below, emphasis mine) in The Province, Mr. Campbell claims that he has not read last week’s letter from the B.C. Librarian’s Association about the closing of the Legislative Library. If the people with the most expertise and authority in the field can’t get through the Premier’s bubble, who can?
Library’s fate ‘undecided’
LEGISLATURE: Campbell says it’s too soon to say he’s moving in
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Premier Gordon Campbell says it’s too soon to say his offices will be moved into the space now occupied by the stately legislature library.
“There’s been no final plans brought forward,” Campbell said yesterday, when asked about the fate of the 144-year-old library.
Questions have been raised because half the 30 librarians have been notified they will be sent to other jobs in government, while the library and legislature undergo seismic upgrades.
The work will take two years. During that time, millions of books and documents will be sent to a warehouse.
News that Campbell was seen touring the library raised speculation the premier may be eyeing the stunning, five-storey marble-walled space for his own staff’s offices.
Campbell said yesterday that current speaker, Bill Barisoff, and the administrative committee of the legislature are making those decisions.
The premier acknowledged he did take a tour, but only as part of checking out various areas of the legislature grounds to hear about upgrades.
“I have visited the library. There were discussions about what we could do with the entire legislative precinct,” he said.
“The speaker took me around and talked about a number of initiatives we thought we were able to do.”
Campbell said the key issue now is making sure the provincial library collection is available to the public and its documents protected.
But B.C.’s librarians say in a letter to the premier the most important thing is for someone to come clean on the fate of the library.
“The situating of the legislature library within the legislature is symbolic of the importance of knowledge and learning to the founders of our province,” Inba Kehoe, president of the British Columbia Library Association, writes in a March 21 letter to Campbell, obtained by The Province.
The association is looking for assurances the library will remain intact and accessible after the renovations and that it will be restored to its “original prominence” after the work is done.
Campbell said he had not seen the letter.
Michael Burris, the association’s executive director, said the premier’s correspondence secretary had called him this past week to clarify a few points in the letter.
“Our concern is that, in the absence of a plan, we’re left to speculate on what is going to be the end result for the legislature library,” said Burris.
He said members of the Canadian Library Association have been calling his group, wondering what is going on with a facility that has some national prominence.