Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Public Outcry Saves Saskatchewan Library Funds

Library advocacy | Public libraries | Access |Funding | Activism

Drop Everything and Read rally, Fox Valley, Sask.
Photo credit: Susan Rose

In an abrupt about-face, the provincial government of Saskatchewan, Canada, on April 24 restored every penny of the $4.8 million it had cut just a month earlier from public library funding as part of its 2017–18 budget. It was a reversal that elected officials admit was prompted by mounting public opposition to the cuts, spurred in part by a Facebook group that sprang up almost overnight to energize many grassroots protests.

The announcement by Saskatchewan Education Minister Don Morgan wrapped up a tumultuous five weeks in which a determined and unified library community prevailed over what were considered long odds.

They saw thousands of petition signatures, a claim by Morgan that usage had declined significantly and some parts of Saskatchewan might have too many libraries—rebutted point by point by the nonprofit Saskatchewan Library Association (SLA)—sinking poll numbers for the political party in power, a protest aimed directly at elected officials, and a sudden halt to Saskatchewan’s popular interlibrary loan system. Read more...

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