Saskatchewan libraries end province-wide sharing by cutting 'One Province, One Card' program
By Dave Deibert, Saskatoon StarPhoenix
April 4, 2017
As a result of funding cuts in the recent provincial budget, a nationally-lauded library program in Saskatchewan is ending.
Saskatchewan Information & Library Services (SILS) member organizations will no longer offer the ‘One Province, One Library Card’ program, according to an announcement Tuesday. The service has allowed anyone with a valid Saskatchewan library card to place holds on material from any library in the province and have that material delivered to a local branch. Effective April 10, the ability for card holders to place holds on materials from other library systems will no longer be available. As of Tuesday, only materials already in transit will be delivered.
“With a single stroke of its red pen, the provincial government has closed the borders between libraries in this province,” said Regina Public Library board of directors chair Sean Quinlan in a statement.
“What was once a nationally-recognized system of sharing and efficiency is no longer sustainable.”
In 2016, 693,000 holds were filled between libraries across the province. Interlibrary loans will continue locally in Saskatoon and Regina but citizens in rural Saskatchewan will have their options greatly limited by the change.
“This system provided free access to learning, literacy resources, and entertainment regardless of where people chose to live,” Quinlan said. “By closing off resources available to smaller centres, the government has created a two-tiered system of library services in this province.
“That is directly contrary to what a library should be – a welcoming centre of learning and literacy for anyone who wants to use it.”
In last month’s budget, seven regional library systems lost more than half their funding, and funding is being eliminated for libraries in Regina and Saskatoon. The provincial budget left SPL with an annual operating shortfall of close to $800,000, the organization said this week in a statement.
“Without comprehensive provincial funding to cover all associated costs of this service, it is not sustainable for SPL to continue to participate,” the Saskatoon Public Library said in a statement. “In light of the unanticipated budget challenges faced by our municipality, we cannot ask municipal taxpayers to further supplement the costs of the holds and delivery service.”
RPL is presently reviewing its own budget and determining the degree to which customers living outside city limits can access its materials. Interlibrary loans across Canada will also continue at RPL.
For Saskatoon residents, interbranch holds and transfers of Saskatoon Public Library’s roughly 550,000 materials will not be impacted.
Source: Saskatoon StarPhoenix