FREDERICTON (GNB) – Five public libraries will be open every day under a pilot project to further promote literacy in New Brunswick.

Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Francine Landry made the announcement today, which is New Brunswick Literacy Day.

“In New Brunswick, we understand the importance of essential skills like literacy to our economic and social well-being,” said Landry. “Our public libraries play a key role in promoting literacy in communities throughout the province. We encourage New Brunswickers to experience their local library on New Brunswick Literacy Day, and throughout the year.”

Starting May 1, the Saint John Free Public Library, Fredericton Public Library, Moncton Public Library, Campbellton Centennial Library and Mgr. W.J. Conway Public Library in Edmundston will be open every day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They will also be open two evenings a week.

The provincial government will be investing about $900,000 each year to cover increased staffing costs arising from the expanded service. Partner municipalities will continue to pay the cost of operating the library facilities.

Landry said the government is focused on implementing a comprehensive literacy strategy. She said offering a sustainable model of quality library service to the public through service development is an important literacy goal.

“Literacy is an essential building block in developing a vibrant future for the next generation and a prosperous economy,” said Landry. “It is important that we recognize the long-term strategies that are needed to make systemic, positive and foundational shifts to literacy as a whole.”

To further promote literacy and lifelong learning, public libraries will no longer collect fines for late book returns on library cards issued to children under 12.

“This initiative will have a positive impact upon children’s desire to read,” said Landry. “We are doing this to foster a lifelong love for reading as part of the government’s commitment to make New Brunswick the best place to raise a family.”