Stop media-induced moral panic over ravesIn the past two issues, you have put a positive spin on the rave question in this city. With so much negativity and poor journalism in this city, NOW is a beacon.
The other media outlets in this city have decided to utilize propaganda and scare tactics to attempt to remove an extremely diverse scene from Toronto. It pleases me to see that there are some media outlets who still think before they write.
Please keep up the amazing work. You've just gained a loyal reader.
Who's keeping an eye on police at demos?RE COPS JUMP DEMO
(NOW, April 27-May 3). I was a participant in that demo, and the impression I had of that experience, my first one at a rally, was that there are serious black holes in the system that need to be addressed and rectified, even though our police service is commendable in general terms.
Questions that come to mind as a result of that experience: Are police officers recruited through careful screening, or are they "hired thugs" in the name of the law who fail to serve and protect? Do we have to imitate the police tactics demonstrated south of the border, with their violent and uncivilized approach to solutions in the industrialized world?
Does Olivia Chow have reason to believe that photographs and badge numbers produce disciplinary action, or are they filed on a routine basis with totally ineffective results?
Would somebody from the police or Police Services Board be willing to respond to these questions?
Using the vulnerable poor for political endsI was appalled by the
Toronto Disaster Relief Committee's March To End Homelessness on May 6.
There were about 150 marchers, and almost all of them were from the agencies who would be receiving the money that would go toward fighting homelessness.
They even tried to bribe the homeless out to the event with offers of food when there was none, and then tried to get donations out of them!
And then they thought they could inflame the situation by putting up posters telling people to "Act Their Rage."
These protesters are nothing but poverty pimps out for money for their own organizations and salaries.
Robert De Bartolo
Patient care has never been their priorityPat Capponi's Mental Breakdown article (NOW, May 3-10) appears to totally miss the obvious point that "patient care" has never been the priority of facilities such as the one that exists at 1001 Queen West, regardless of what the institution currently chooses to call itself.
The true priority of this establishment is still (as it has always been) the warehousing, control and pacification of people who one way or another don't fit into this society's painfully narrow definitions of "normalcy."
What's so strange about taking any job?Why is it so surprising
that people appreciate any work they can get (NOW, April 27-May 3)? That is the way labourers, factory and clerical workers are being hired and treated in today's job market. And the buzz words by agencies and companies hiring is "current" work experience, as if we automatically lose any skills or brain power.
These guys should be commended for their efforts. Please, at least acknowledge just how many people can only get part-time, short hours with no benefits.
A room filled with chicks and penis envyIn regards to Susan G. Cole's review of the Tribe 8 concert at Lee's Palace (NOW, May 4-10), whose summary of the spectacle I couldn't have agreed with more.
I have never seen such a carnival of penis envy. Thanks, though, to the chick who bought me the drinks.
Reference library the best (and has coffee)We read your article on
the Toronto Public Library by Vernon Clement Jones (NOW, April 27-May 3) with great interest. Yes, we have a bias, since we work at the Toronto Reference Library (TRL), which we believe to be one of the best public libraries in the world. TRL is a research and reference branch of the Toronto Public Library, but it was not mentioned in your article at all.
The article emphasized the similarities between Chapters, Indigo and libraries, but we feel a lot of differences that make us unique as a public service were omitted. As library staff in the Business Information Centre, we would have to agree that the bookstores have a good assortment of current titles. However, they do not have directories of companies from Canada and around the world, as we do. We also have a large collection of investment newsletters that investors come to consult on a daily basis. Both directories and investment newsletters are very expensive, and individuals usually cannot afford to buy them.
There are many other areas at TRL that have materials that cannot be obtained at the bookstores. Just to mention one huge area, the historical materials in all subject areas at our library cannot be matched.
We provide quality reference service in finding and using the materials here at TRL. Our users are not on their own when they visit our library.
So come on over and enjoy yourself. You can drink coffee on the first floor or in the cafeteria before or after you use the materials, so that the valuable and often irreplaceable items will not be damaged. We give service with a smile.
Marci MacKinnon Margaret Wigglesworth and 15 others
Hours in her branch have been steadily cutOur organization oper-ates an archive out of the basement of the Annette Library. Over the past several years, I have watched as the cost-cutting initiatives at the TPL have steadily eroded services at our branch.
The library used to open at 10 am on weekdays, but now opens at noon, often with a group of people waiting at the door. It used to close at 8:30 pm on Friday (as well as Monday to Thursday), but now closes at 6 pm. The number of full- time staff has been cut and substitutes unfamiliar with the branch building and collections are sometimes unable to answer basic inquiries.
There used to be a custodian who closed up in the evening, but now, with staffing reduced as well, librarians must handle the last-minute check-outs plus secure the buildings and deal with any lingering patrons. Lack of a custodian also means that anyone using community rooms must supply the muscle to move heavy tables, find extension cords and other equipment previously used by someone else but not put away. This is not always easy for seniors and pregnant mothers. One day last winter, the heat was off entirely because the now-centralized library maintenance staff did not believe a librarian who called to report the problem.
The branch's programming budget for children, seniors -- all programs -- was cut to $200 for last year.
Our group recently published a new version of our book on local history. Not everyone can afford the $17.95 cost, but even though the ordering specialist for local history has twice recommended purchasing 20 copies for the system, no purchase has been made. I have to tell people to go to the bookstores to read it!
Cost cutting by city council combined with a top heavy bureaucratic structure at the TPL focused on statistics-gathering is running the city's library system into the ground.
West Toronto Junction Historical Society
The law on what should be in librariesThe Library Act estab-lishes the role for libraries in our communities. Libraries are expected to provide information, education and recreation. TPL tries to do as much as possible for as many individual customers as is realistically feasible, but how on earth can we expect it to be all things for all people?
When the new TPL was created, funding was reduced. Of course, the way things are done can be improved, but TPL is a work-in- progress. It is improving. We've only been the second-largest library system in North America for a couple of years. With less money available, less expensive ways of doing things must be found.
If this means I'll have to wait a little bit to read the newest Grisham or Steele novel, while my nieces and nephews learn about dinosaurs and democracy, that's all right. I can wait.
Chapters will getEarth to Chapters fans: This big-box takeover is a big bust, awash in red ink. It's naive to take it as a role model for any library or regular bookstore. Chapters' formula is based on U.S. book giant Barnes and Noble.
its overdue slip, too
The deep pockets for enormous expansion and overhead costs come from venture capital and shareholders' dreams, not profits. As anyone could have told famed MBA and Chapters CEO Larry Stevenson, books have a very low profit margin; most booksellers do it for the love of books. If he were smart, he would have sold his shares when they were high.
Chapters' business strategy: creating massive, competition-crushing expansion, paying its staff McWages and bullying publishers to provide deep discounts and accept unlimited returns of unsold books. Chapters even opened its own warehouse, Pegasus, to qualify for the 50-per-cent discount publishers give wholesalers. Barnes and Noble tried this trick, but was prevented by U.S. anti-trust law, which is stronger than ours.
So how is it all working? Customers love it, though many are lying down, not lining up, at the cash registers. Publishers are fuming, but most gave in to Chapters' demands, which are unprecedented in the formerly "gentlemanly" book business. Only a few (Random House, for one) have refused Chapters' terms. Many independent booksellers were killed off, but it wasn't the comfy chairs that killed them. Unlike Chapters, they were unable to sell books below cost.
So far, so good for Chapters. But take a closer look and you'll see signs the party's nearly over. Chapters Online bled $11.7 million in its third quarter alone, and earnings of the so-called bricks-and-mortar operation have been a huge disappointment to shareholders, who recently dumped both stocks in droves. As unpaid bills mount and more shareholders jump ship, how long can the harried CEO convince investors to subsidize the non-buying, comfy-chair-and-coffee crowd, along with the money-losing on-line biz?
Better take your snooze, sticky bun, free read and coffee while you can.