October 23, 2018 7:34 pm
Updated: October 23, 2018 7:49 pm

Advocacy group disappointed with ‘secretive’ government library review

Save Saskatchewan Libraries said they have confirmed that the province is currently reviewing library service delivery, legislation and funding, and that the consultations do not include the public.

Taryn Snell / Global News
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Save Saskatchewan’s Libraries, the group behind the successful campaign to restore funding to Saskatchewan’s provincial libraries, is not happy with the provincial government in terms of reviewing library funding and service delivery.

The group says they have confirmed that the province is currently reviewing library service delivery, legislation and funding, and that the consultations do not include the public.

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“[In 2017] Brad Wall and Don Morgan assured us that there would be a library review and that the public and the library patrons would have an opportunity to participate in this review, and that it would be public,” saidSave Saskatchewan Libraries co-founder Christine Freethy.

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“And what we found out is that the library review is currently going on, but behind closed doors, and that there will be no input from the public whatsoever.”

As a library patron, Freethy believes the public is an essential voice and should be part of any conversations happening about the future of libraries in the province.

“If the government thinks they can make decisions about the future of our libraries behind closed doors, they have another thing coming,” Freethy said.

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The province released the following statement:

As announced last year, the government is in the process of conducting engagement sessions with library sector stakeholders. These engagement sessions will help identify the current roles and responsibilities of library boards, the provincial government and municipalities in how to best support public libraries. The government heard from the people of Saskatchewan following the 2017-18 budget about the importance of libraries in our province and restored funding. The government is committed to providing a strong, equitable public library service in Saskatchewan. Members of the public can share any feedback they have with their local library board, which will have the opportunity to speak to the panel on behalf of its libraries and residents.

Some library advocates are now concerned that the secretive review process could signal future funding cuts, restructuring or changes in service delivery.

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“We know that the public cares deeply about our provincial libraries. The Saskatchewan government should take note of that and ensure that any consultation process that they undertake is transparent, with ample opportunities for public participation”, said co-founder Sarah Morden.

Save Saskatchewan Libraries is an advocacy group that began after the 2017 budget cut to public libraries and held the largest mass demonstration in the modern history of the province

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