Hundreds across Saskatchewan protest library cuts
More than 70 “Drop Everything and Read” (DEAR) protests took place in front of libraries and MLA offices across Saskatchewan on Friday.
Participants were encouraged to drop everything and read a book outside the offices for 15 minutes over the noon hour. It was in reaction to the provincial budget, which cut $3.5 million to public libraries and ended book transfers between libraries.
One of the protests took place in Lumsden. Allison Stelter owns a daycare there, and is a chairperson on the Lumsden Library board. She takes her daycare children to the library every Friday morning for story time, but she’s concerned the library cuts will change that.
“For us, it's our outing for the week, and the kids really look forward to coming,” said Stelter. “I don't know what we'll do if we won't have that.”
For some rural libraries, the cuts mean communities have to come up with the shortfall. If not, local libraries may not survive.
In Yorkton, more than 100 people took part in a rally. Former Parkland Regional Library employee Richard Bolt said the reduction will disproportionally affect rural areas.
“I was upset (about) the cuts to the library programs,” said Bolt. “I'm dependent a lot upon books that are not available in my local library to come in from other libraries.”
Dozens gathered in front of MLA Gene Makowsky and Kevin Doherty’s office in Regina. Protestor Aina Kagis said the change will affect all areas of the province.
“They'll be poorer for this loss of service in a lot of ways: access to information, access to job searches, access to knowledge about the world and access to a place that builds community,” said Kagis.