Library facing cuts

By Geoff Lee

April 6, 2017 12:00 AM

ON THE BOOKS Ron Gillies, head librarian of the Lloydminster Public Library, says library users will see an end to all inter-library lending in Saskatchewan, effective April 10, after the province cut operating grants to seven regional libraries to the total tune of $3.5 million, including $500,000 to the Lakeland region head office in North Battleford. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

Local protest planned for tomorrow

A Support Saskatchewan’s Public Libraries group is rallying library supporters to voice their opposition to massive Saskatchewan budget cuts to regional libraries.
Lloydminster residents served by the Lakeland library region can take up a Facebook challenge to read a book outside the office of Lloydminster MLA Colleen Young at noon tomorrow.
The supportsaskatchewanspubliclibraries page also urges residents who can’t attend Friday’s rally to send a letter or email to Young, Education Minister Don Morgan,  and Premier Brad Wall.
The provincial budget cuts operating grants to each of the seven library regions by 58 per cent or $500,000 and by 100 per cent for city libraries in Regina and Saskatoon.
“There is severe damage that’s going to be done to all seven regional libraries,” said Ron Gillies, head librarian at the Lloydminster Public Library in the Lakeland region.
“A 58 per cent cut to the headquarter’s budget will have a significant effect.”
The Lakeland region has revised its budget with $1.2 million in revenue from municipal levies, and just $300,000 in provincial operating grants after the $500,000 cut.
Gillies thinks the Border City aspect of Lloydminster library funding will limit a financial loss to about $25,000, with the cuts retroactive to Jan. 1.
“We’re insulated a little bit from the cuts because two thirds of population and our funding are on the Alberta side of the border, so we get a glancing blow,” said Gillies.
Alberta’s budget left library funding alone.
“So we can avoid layoffs certainly for this year, but other communities are going to see them,” said Gillies.
“We’re already seeing them happen in other regions.”
He said with the hard hit to the regional headquarters, all of the municipal libraries in the Lakeland region are going to be losing access to things that are valued.
Effective April 10, all inter-library loans of materials in Saskatchewan will end.
Lakeland residents will lose immediate access to nearly 3.5 million items.
The grant cut to the Lakeland head office in North Battleford will eliminate the delivery system that moves things between libraries in the province.
Gone soon will be access to databases such as online encyclopedias, auto repair manuals and resources like that.
Gillies said in the short term, the Lloydminster library can cope with the loss.
“We can make up from our existing resources,” he said.
“Long term, we are concerned not just for ourselves in terms of staffing, but where we’re going to get resources that we used to be able to get from our colleagues in other libraries across the province.”
Gillies said those resources are not going to be available to anyone in Saskatchewan and he has no idea what the resolution is going to be.

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