What some are calling an about-face from the Wall Government, libraries across Saskatchewan say they are wondering what’s coming next.
In media releases sent out Tuesday morning, Saskatchewan libraries announced they were closing their electronic sharing system between branches.
During the provincial budget, a $3.5 million cut to the provincial wide library budgets was announced.
It included cutting funding for the Saskatchewan Information & Library Services, with the “one card, one library” system, making it possible for any one with a valid library card to obtain any book from any branch across the province.
Following Tuesday’s announcement of the service being shut down, the education minister wants officials to reconsider.
Speaking after question period Tuesday, Education Minister Don Morgan said he isn’t determined to cut the program but suggests individual libraries need to help themselves when it comes to finding efficiencies.
“I’ve heard that comment made before, well you didn’t consult, but you don’t usually consult on budget matters or tax rates and a variety of other things. You make difficult choices and sometimes when you make announcements like this you have to change or re-calibrate how you’ve done things,” Morgan told reporters Tuesday.
Education Critic, Carla Beck said she’s surprised Morgan in just 24 hours flipped from supporting the program, and now is looking for reviews on it.
“It’s surprising that yesterday we were hearing assurances from the minister that this was a prized program within the library system,” Beck said. This is a program that was used almost 700,000 times last year in our province it was really one of the best provincial library programs in the country,” Beck added.
Palliser Regional Library sent out a statement Tuesday.
“With the reduction in funding for regional library systems, the provincial system will no longer be sustainable in its present state,” read the release.
In 2016, 693,000 holds were filled between libraries across the province. As of April 4, anything requested from libraries in other regions will not be filled unless it is already in transit.
The Regina Public Library will host two information sessions about the provincial budget cuts on April 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Central Library.
A petition has also been circulated calling for funding levels for libraries to remain consistent to 2016 levels.