The province is currently going through a consultation process with stakeholders in the province’s libraries to gather input on the future of the information centres.
Education Minister Gordon Wyant tabled a list of questions being asked of library leadership following requests from education critic Carla Beck, Monday afternoon.
The two page document asks a variety of questions in six categories including governance, future direction and the impact of fiscal pressures. Questions include how funding should be allocated, what libraries are doing to ensure they operate with balanced budgets, what roles different levels of government should play in libraries and where there may be room for efficiencies.
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“It’s to look for questions- look for concerns within the library sector- so that we can map the future of public libraries within the province,” Wyant said.
“We hope to wrap up these consultations with stakeholders relatively quickly, at which point in time we’ll be looking for public consultation with respect to the report.”
Once all consultations are complete, the education ministry will release a report detailing all questions and responses.
Across the aisle, Beck said she still wants to see better clarity in what the overall goal is of the review is.
“There is concern that this is simply an exercise in finding ways to make draconian cuts or find a way to make – in air quotes – efficiencies, which is code for making cuts,” Beck said.
Sask. libraries still reeling from budget cuts
“The hope is that the government would use this opportunity to provide a vision or to make a vision of what libraries could be.”
In a Nov. 22 written response to Beck, the minister said Chinook Regional Library, Palliser Regional Library, Saskatoon Public Library and Southeast Regional Library have been consulted. Representatives from the Regina Public Library and Wheatland Regional Library are serving as consultants on the review panel.
Sask. government restores library funding
In the 2017-18 provincial budget, the Regina and Saskatoon libraries saw a combined $1.3 million reduction to their operating grants. The seven regional libraries were hit with a $3.5 million cut. About a month after the budget was delivered, the province restored library funding to 2016-17 levels due to public outcry.
The library funding level remained static in the 2018-19 budget.