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Thousands drop everything and read to restore Sask. library funding

Over one hundred people gathered outside Social Service Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor's constituency office. Sean Lerat-Stetner/Global News

Thousands of people across Saskatchewan dropped everything, went to their local MLA’s office, and read over the noon hour Friday.

Around 200 people chanted ‘save our libraries’ outside the south Regina office of Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor.

“It’s difficult especially to get a lot of variety of French children’s books. So it’s really nice to have the interlibrary loans,” Valerie McKellar said.

READ MORE: Sask. Government hopes to avoid elimination of inter-library transfers

The provincial budget eliminates provincial funding for libraries in Regina and Saskatoon, which saves the province $1.2 million. Regional libraries across the province are taking a $3.5 million hit.

Morgan Jones is a University of Regina student who worked at the Southeast Regional Library in Estevan last summer running the summer reading program. She’s exceptionally concerned about what this means for her hometown library.

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“We’re not going to be able to order new materials. We just stopped inter-library loans, we just stopped the use of Hoopla, which is all our digital resources,” she said.

“Aboriginal storytelling month is going to get cut.”

The Southeast Regional Library board will meet Saturday to decide the future of these resources and programs, including the summer reading program.

Minister Beaudry-Mellor attended the rally, and had several conversations with people at the rally. She held firm on the government’s decision, but is open to discussion.

“No this is not fun, and these are not popular,” she said. “But there is a vision for getting back to balance, and that was the rationale behind them. Obviously there’s a lot of public concern, and I’m here to listen to that today.”

Beaudry-Mellor will be taking these comments to the Monday government caucus meeting.

Harlea Price wants to see more than talk come from this rally.

“There can’t just be questions being answered. Something needs to be done about this. You can’t just come out here out here and be like I understand what’s going on… That does nothing for us,” she said.

Over 70 rallies were held at libraries and MLA offices across Saskatchewan.

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Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees were circulating a petition aimed at making the cut to library funding a provincial referendum.

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