April 26, 2014 8:51 pm

Regina Public Library “Friends” celebrate milestone

Friends of the Regina Public Library celebrate in Unitarian Centre Saturday afternoon.

Matt Myers / Global News

REGINA – Friends of the Regina Public Library celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the day the city voted to save three libraries from closure, Saturday afternoon.

“I owe these people so much because they gave me so much. Sorry, I’m getting a little choked up about that,” said a slightly emotional Vanessa Thorson, who participated in the celebrations over Skype at the Unitarian Centre.

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Thorson, who now lives in Yukon, and several others, birthed the group in response to the city’s plan to close the Glen Elm, Connaught, and Prince of Wales branches in November of 2003.

“We met, probably three or four times a week,” said Thorson.

City council eventually voted to fund the libraries, keeping them open.

The funding came after multiple protests, and a petition with 26,000 signatures.

“I’m very shy, but I knew I had to do it. I just had to do it,” said Catherine Verrall, who protested with the group.

Verrall got about 2,000 of the signatures, beating anyone else involved in the cause.

“I’m quite passionate about community, and I think the library is really, it’s really the heart of the community,” she said.

The sentiment was echoed at the event by those who haven’t used libraries for as long a lifetime.

“You don’t have to go there to read, it’s kind of a nice atmosphere in that sense,” said Candis Froess, a history student at the University of Regina.

Froess hopes to get into a library studies master’s program after graduation.

She’s attended the celebration to learn more about the group’s accomplishments.

“I just think what they did was pretty impressive, and I’m happy that they did it because it might set an example for other communities,” she said.

Since the victory, the group’s mission has evolved.

“In a broad sense, it brings the awareness of the public libraries to the community and how valued they are in the community, and why we need to keep them,” said Jim Elliot, a board member of the group.

And while there is always worry for what the future may bring, the group believes it’s ready.

“The Regina Public Library Board knows there’s always somebody that’s going to be watching them, and making them accountable,” said Thorson.

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