Public libraries have always played an essential role in the educational, recreational, cultural and community development of Saskatchewan. Towards these ends, Saskatchewan libraries have provided excellent public services through their development of co-operative practices and through their willingness to utilize the latest technological advances to meet the needs of their patrons.
So begins the entry for Public Libraries found in The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. What I’d like to know is this: what parts of these two sentences are too difficult for Premier Brad Wall and members of the government to understand? I ask this question because there must be some reason they saw fit to eliminate provincial funding to Regina and Saskatoon public libraries and to slash funding to the regional library systems by 60 per cent. These actions will rip apart our provincial library system, which has long been the envy of the rest of Canada.
Maybe they didn’t take the time to find out that hundreds of thousands of Saskatchewan residents borrow millions of items each year. Maybe they don’t know about the wide range of programming available—everything from story hours to ESL sessions to reading programmes to book launches to internet facilities to reference and referral services to services to home-bound seniors and others.
Maybe they don’t appreciate the spirit of co-operation and innovation that has always been a hallmark of our system. Our library systems were resource sharing long before that concept became a buzz word in the world of business and economics. Maybe they don’t know that they can borrow material from any public library branch in the province and return it to any branch.
Whatever their reasons for these devastating cuts, one hopes that it is not a disrespect for learning, for knowledge and for information.
I urge the government to reconsider these drastic measures, and I urge everyone to let their elected representatives know how much our public library service is valued and how much value it adds to life in our province. If it is allowed to be dismantled, we will never get it back.
Catherine Macaulay – Val Marie