1. The petition calling for funding cut-backs has regularly been presented in the legislature by MLA Carla Beck. A copy can be downloaded here https://savesasklibraries.ca/action-centre Petition_Libraries_2017_03_24 Save Sask Libraries petition instructions Mar 28, 2017
2. The petition calling for a referendum on restoring library funding is well on its way to getting the 125,000 signatures required to legally force a referendum. See the website at http://www.votelibrarypetition.ca/ Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/librarypetition/
Volunteers are need to assist in this process by collecting signatures at public events.
Thanks to library supporters for all the letter-writing, phone calls, petition signing and attending events. The government is now in the process of reviewing its budget on library funding! There may be Cabinet meetings concerning the budget this weekend – so keep on contacting your MLA!
1. The two RPL sessions on how the budget cuts would affect services in Regina and province-wide were very well attended. Information about the situation affecting the RPL and provincial library services is located at https://www.reginalibrary.ca/about/in-the-media
2. The Saskatchewan Library Association has the RPL information, plus other facts, and a good updated list of items that have been in the media. https://www.reginalibrary.ca/about/in-the-media
3. The Saskatchewan Library Trustees’ Association also has a position statement, media reports, and responses to the budget cuts from across Canada. http://slta.ca/
4. The movement across Saskatchewan is highlighted on the Save Saskatchewan Libraries (formerly Support Our Saskatchewan Libraries) Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1863999523837974/
5. Actions being taken are at the website https://savesasklibraries.ca/news/
On Friday April 7 at 12 noon, people from around the province are gathering at the offices of MLAs to show their support for libraries.
Facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/114435322428072/
“Regina Public Library concerned cuts will hurt customers” April 3, 2017 RPLConcernedaboutcuts1 http://www.reginalibrary.ca/blogs/media/blogs/press/RPLConcernedaboutcuts1.pdf
“Cost-cutting forces closure of borders between libraries” April 4, 2017 BordersclosedbetweenSKlibrarysystems http:/”Cost/www.reginalibrary.ca/blogs/media/blogs/press/BordersclosedbetweenSKlibrarysystems.pdf
From petitions and letter-writing campaigns to phone calls and reading rallies — supporters of the province’s libraries are keeping up the pressure in hopes the Saskatchewan Party government will rewrite its chapter on funding cuts.
“It’s going to devastate our library system,” Christine Freethy said Sunday. A resident of Rabbit Lake near North Battleford, Freethy and her friend Sarah Morden, a librarian who lives in Saskatoon, founded Save Sask Libraries. They launched the Facebook group Supporting Saskatchewan’s Public Libraries, which has grown to some 4,000 members, and created the website www.savesasklibraries.ca, which includes a letter-writing tool and paper petition drive.
“We didn’t want it to be a place of discussion. We wanted it to be a place for focus with their actions,” explained Freethy, who is a volunteer board member with the Medstead Public Library.
On April 7, library advocates are planning province-wide action with “Drop Everything and Read,” encouraging people to gather at their MLA offices, read a book and call on the government to reconsider its cuts. Several petitions are also circulating, and there’s talk of pressing for a referendum.
The provincial budget eliminated funding grants to public libraries in Regina and Saskatoon, and cut operating funds for regional libraries by $3.5 million, meaning a loss of about 50 to 60 per cent. For example, under preliminary estimates released by the Ministry of Education, Lakeland Library Region — in which Freethy’s library is located — would see its funding grant potentially fall to $345,000 as compared to the $814,120 it got last year. Information to calculate grants isn’t due at the ministry until May, so numbers at this point are estimates.
Education Minister Don Morgan was on the defensive in the legislature last week as the NDP’s Carla Beck presented several petitions opposing the cuts. Morgan said the province has too many libraries as compared to Alberta and Manitoba, suggested municipalities and schools could share libraries, argued the library system needs to adjust given society’s shift to new technology, and also cited figures for falling library card numbers and items checked out since a decade ago.
“Difficult decisions had to be made in order to meet the fiscal challenges that we’re facing,” Morgan told the legislature.
If change is needed, “cutting the library system off at the knees is not a planned response to the concept that there’s too many libraries, said Freethy, adding consolidation requires time to study and plan. “How will they replace the services offered by these libraries in rural Saskatchewan,” she said. For example, in rural areas where Internet service can be unduly expensive or non-existent, people rely on their libraries for access. She added that cards may be down — because of consolidation under a new computer system — but not library users.
Calling the cuts “astounding,” Joanne Havelock, a member of the Friends of the Regina Public Library, also questioned Morgan’s numbers and observations. She noted it’s not so unusual we might have more small-town libraries given the province’s distances.
But like Freethy, Havelock believes Morgan is also missing the point. “Libraries aren’t just about the number of cards or the number of books taken out. They’re learning centres … They’re safe places for young people to go and study,” she said.
“They all create a sense of community and inclusion for people,” Havelock added. “And that has value.”
Preliminary estimates for cuts to regional library systems:
Regional libraries Total revenue 2015 Provincial grant 2016 Est. grant 2017
Chinook (Swift Current) $1,698,448 $664,959 $276,000
Lakeland (North Battleford) $2,176,179 $814,120 $345,000
Palliser (Moose Jaw) $2,446,253 $686,812 $286,000
Parkland (Yorkton) $2,210,091 $890,613 $366,000
Southeast (Weyburn) $2,823,470 $961,724 $403,000
Wapiti (Prince Albert) $2,850,200 $1,073,119 $443,000
Wheatland (Saskatoon) $1,798,509 $930,653 $403,000
*Grants to the seven regional library systems are calculated on the basis of a funding formula. Information needed to calculate individual grants is due in may, so the 2017 amounts are estimates only.
*Total revenue is for 2015 since that’s the most current figure available.
*Funding for Pahkisimon Nuye-ah (northern library system) for 2017 remains consistent with 2016 levels of $874,000, plus an additional $100,000 single integrated library system supplement.
Source: Saskatchewan Ministry of Education
Library cuts astounding
REGINA, SK — Members of the Friends of the Regina Public Library were astounded by the Saskatchewan government’s recent announcement of budget cuts to city and regional libraries.
The cut to Regina Public Library was significant – about 3% of the budget. The cuts to the regional library systems will have a devastating impact on those libraries.
What is most dismaying is the attitude of the Saskatchewan Minister of Education, who in his remarks seemed to have a complete lack of understanding of the value of libraries as learning centres and places for community and as centres for the access to information and public discourse which are a cornerstone of our democracy; and conveyed a dismissive attitude to the wonderful legacy of libraries and the connections between libraries that has been built up in Saskatchewan, which is admired all across Canada.
Libraries are a destination location providing not only books, DVD’s and many other resources, they are also a place of quiet for study for children and adults and a technology hub for people who do not have ready access to computers and the Internet elsewhere. People study for school or training and do research for work and business opportunities. They access materials that stimulate imagination and creativity. Newcomers to Canada can find resources, in many languages. Libraries today have many ways of accommodating the requirements of people with challenges in seeing, hearing and mobility. Libraries have resources and programs responding to Indigenous culture. Small local libraries, built up often by the pioneering efforts of rural women, are an important part of the community fabric in small towns throughout the province. As well, northern communities need these valued resources to build hope for the youth of this province.
FRPL calls upon the government to rescind these cuts. In a time of social change in this province, libraries are too important of a resource to be cutting their budgets and callously dismissing their value. The rapid and strong response to this action shows the high value the people of Saskatchewan put in their libraries.
FRPL is encouraging people to write to their MLA, sign the two petitions that are being sent to the provincial government, and participate in events such as the province-wide read-in to be held on April 7.