A (sadly) regular part of our CAPAL’s advocacy effort falls into the category of defending libraries from ill-advised funding cuts. Here is our letter on the recent proposed cuts to library systems in Saskatchewan.
The Hon. Don Morgan,
Minister of Education
Saturday April 1, 2017
Dear Mr. Morgan,
On behalf of the Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians/l’Association canadienne des bibliothécaires académiques professionnels (CAPAL/ACBAP) we are writing to express our deep concern over the devastating cuts you intend to impose on the province’s libraries:
- complete elimination of provincial operational funding of the libraries in Regina and Saskatoon
- cut to funding in 7 of the 8 Saskatchewan regional library systems by 58%
- cut to public funding of universities, technical institutes and colleges by 5%, which will impact the libraries serving higher education in the province
Let there be no mistake. Libraries are not just buildings for lending books; they are a core part of our community life. They are a public space for children to learn and play in a safe environment, for working-age adults to continue their education, and for seniors to be socially involved. They open a door to the world by providing a wide range of research resources, including online resources, for students and others, and have an excellent track record of successful collaboration with many other cultural and social organizations. They are us! — and an attack on them damages the health of our towns, cities and municipalities.
Moreover, libraries are custodians of a precious principle of democracy, namely that information is a public good and should be open and accessible to all. As Benjamin Franklin, who began the public library movement, said, “The doors of wisdom are never shut.”
Libraries are also, as you should know, very cost effective. Study after study has shown that a small investment in library services has a very significant financial multiplier effect in benefits to the surrounding area. In order to achieve these benefits, however, it is important to have libraries within easy reach – so that children, seniors, and the less advantaged can get to them. Cutting and merging libraries will hit hardest on those who are most vulnerable.
It has been suggested that school libraries and public libraries can be merged. This is a mistake; school libraries have a very specific purpose as part of the school curriculum, with restricted hours, particular materials, and instructional programs. The suggestion that two very different libraries can just merge because they are near to each other, indicates at best a lack of understanding, and at worst, callous indifference to the needs of small Saskatchewan communities. It is a transparent attempt to pretend that you can take large sums of money from towns and municipalities without harming them.
We urge the government to reconsider these drastic measures which will, without a doubt, have an adverse impact on Saskatchewan communities for years to come. Please keep our libraries intact for this and future generations and do not shut the door to wisdom.
On behalf of the Board, Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians/l’Association canadienne des bibliothécaires académiques professionnels (CAPAL/ACBAP)
The Hon. Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan
Trent Wotherspoon, MLA, Leader of the Opposition
Carla Beck, MLA, Critic for Education, Early Learning and Childcare
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