As a Crown Ward, The Library was a Lifeline to University

I'm proud of all of Hamilton's social media communities for defending our Hamilton Public Library after recent comments by Ward 7 Councillor Donna Skelly. (You can listen to an audio recording or read a transcript.)

Without computers at the library and access to knowledge, I would never have made it to university.

I grew up in Hamilton Housing (and some non-City Housing rat holes, including having no hydro for most of my Grade 3 year), then in foster care as a Crown Ward. I lived on my own at age 17.

CAS only paid my rent. I went to go to high school full-time, worked part-time 24 hours a week to put food on my table, clothes on my back, my bus pass to get to school, and all my other living expenses.

On top of this, I volunteered three nights a week, was involved on public school board committees, and a few other community groups.

I am thankful to the library for helping me to be educated, helping me to get to university, and being a place where even today I go to get nonfiction books to improve my knowledge. (During the time I was full-time military and posted elsewhere, I used the library's online services to stay connected to Hamilton as well.)

I'm one of Canada's few working-class journalists, and Canada's only independent crowdfunded local journalist.

If it were not for the library and other government "hand-up" services, I would be trapped in the social assistance system, in jail, or in a minimum wage job where the government would have to subsidize my employer by funding access to discounted bus passes, subsidized housing, food banks, and all the other things the working poor need to survive. (I've never heard Skelly speak out at Council about this corporate welfare.)

Today, I'm involved with the start-up of a new program at the library to help Crown Wards to get to university.

Councillor Donna Skelly says the library shouldn't be involved in helping Crown Wards to access higher education because the provincial Ministry of Education should be funding that.

We have a Ministry of Culture. Maybe she should call on them to fund the digitization of the CHCH archive by the Hamilton Library - a program paid for from the library budget, a program Skelly praised.

Donna Skelly claims to be a Conservative, claims to value hard work, claims that she wants to help people to better themselves and "pull up their boot straps".

Skelly claims she wants to save taxpayers money - and I support her! Start by cutting the 33 percent increase Council gave themselves to their pensions this term.

Cut Council's free lunches, start showing up to work on time, start reading your reports (which included the library stats she was asking about), start doing your research, and stop wasting taxpayers money with uninformed questions.

If Skelly wants to help make our society better, I know many people outside of her bubble who can help her to learn what's happening across the City.

Donna, you know how to reach me, I'm happy to explain to you the importance of libraries and the new digital programs you are maligning to getting Crown Wards into university.

I'm available any time.

I originally posted this to my professional Facebook page