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The Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA-FCAB) shares the deep concern of its member association, the Saskatchewan Library Association (SLA), with cuts to library funding in Saskatchewan’s 2017 Budget. These cuts include the elimination of provincial funding for public libraries in Regina and Saskatoon and a reduction of spending by $3.5 million to 7 out of 8 regional libraries, representing 58% of their total provincial funding. While we understand the financial challenges of these economic times, we urge the Government to reconsider these cuts.

As Michael Shires, President of SLA, stated:

Libraries play a critical role in life-long learning and enhancing the quality of life for citizens of all ages. Libraries matter because they are fundamental to the cultural, educational, recreational, economic, and political well-being of communities and the people of Saskatchewan… These targeted cuts will be detrimental to all citizens of Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan libraries are cost-effective and provide an excellent return on investment. Studies show that for every $1 invested in a local library, residents receive $5 to $7 back in benefits. Working collaboratively has enabled Saskatchewan libraries to leverage relatively small funds and small population to do big things. Saskatchewan’s Multitype Library Board (MLB), Canada’s only legislated library board, has provided a forum to promote and enable cooperation among over 320 public libraries in 10 provincial systems, 25 post-secondary libraries, 755 school libraries, many special libraries, and other information providers. The Saskatchewan Information and Library Services (SILS) Consortium has created innovations such as a province-wide e-book collection for all residents, a province-wide library catalogue, and one provincial library card.

These significant achievements, made possible through provincial funding, have made Saskatchewan a national leader in library services. Because the regional library systems and the libraries of Regina and Saskatoon are the heart of the innovative, cost-effective provincial library system, the proposed budget reductions endanger these nation-leading achievements. Without provincial funding the system cannot function, and local libraries and their many thousands of users all over Saskatchewan will suffer.

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations urges the government of Saskatchewan to recognize the crucial role provincial funding plays in ensuring nation-leading, cost-effective and innovative library services for all citizens of Saskatchewan and reconsider its decision on library funding.