For want of a library

By Jill McKenzie

April 3, 2017 1:26 PM

CALL TO ACTION Our frugal columnist is asking those who believe in libraries to lobby the province against library cuts.

There’s a proverb that goes something like this:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Around the Lloydminster area, we are familiar with the uncomfortable decisions that come with reducing spending.
We get it.
When you’re bringing in less money, you have to spend less money.
It makes sense, and it’s what this column has been preaching for over a year.
This column has also been preaching your local library is one of your community’s greatest resources.
It is a place of inclusion—anyone can walk in and read a book, borrow a computer, or sit and study.
It’s a place where those without a phone or the Internet can still access these tools while they apply for jobs, look for childcare, or search for a home.
It is a place where parents bring their kids to get them excited about books and reading.
When children borrow books, they learn to respect the property of others, they commit to a deadline and they become aware of the community around them.
In small towns, a library is still a thing of pride—a destination for local families that prioritize reading in their homes.
While Saskatchewan’s minister of Education, Don Morgan, feels “The future of libraries is leaning towards electronic media,” many parents would agree that there is a decline in children’s behavior and attitudes when they’re placed in front of a screen for extended amounts of time.
There’s something to be said for reading paper books, which is hard to afford in an economic downturn like we have been experiencing.
Yes, balancing budgets is important and worthy, but cutting libraries to this extent is taking resources from the young, the unemployed, and the marginalized people that consider the library a safe place of learning.
Whatever your child grows up to be, limiting their exposure to books now surely limits their reasoning and deductive skills later in life.
Sure, they can Google what they want to know.
And when they do, they will have to discern for themselves what is really true.
The Wikipedia page that you or I could update with our own thoughts at any time?
The blog or fringe website of someone presenting themselves as an expert?
There are plenty of hacks that have been published in print form, but visiting a library and exposing your child and yourself to a multitude of opinions gives you an opportunity to learn together while also becoming critical thinkers.
Let’s not leave this kind of instruction up to our kids, alone on the Internet.
Perhaps these cuts won’t be the end of small town libraries.
That’s hard to imagine, though, with these small main street entities already stripped down to a few hours a week.
And that happened during the high-flyin’, fast livin’ days of the oil boom.
If things pick up and government revenues increase, will we ever see these little libraries reopen?
With regional libraries facing a 58 per cent cut to their funding, programs such as interlibrary loans, e-books and literacy programming may be lost.
If libraries can’t do kid’s programming, it’s possible that kids won’t have the same lifelong love of learning and reading.
People in need will more easily fall through the cracks.
The social costs of these cuts might actually be more expensive for the province and its tax payers in the long-term.
If you are passionate about books and feel libraries are an important resource in our small towns and in Lloydminster, learn more at https://lakelandlibrary.ca/2017budgetcuts.
Send a letter or email to MLA Colleen Young, Education Minister Don Morgan and Premiere Brad Wall—their contact info and a petition is provided through the link.
Or join us at noon on April 7 outside MLA Young’s office by Mary Brown’s on the East side of Lloyd—unit 2-4304 40th Ave. Bring a library book and express your concern.
Taking away libraries is like stopping buying fresh fruit and vegetables to save money.
Sure, you will survive for the indefinite future.
But will you be better off?
Or would continuing to invest in healthy things now ensure that there aren’t gaps and learning deficits that are more expensive and harder to fix down the road?
Like the proverb cautions, in a budget of billions of dollars, cutting $3.5 million from such a necessary community resource is like neglecting the feet of your horses.
What will be lost for want of a library?

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