Music Monday – “Libraries gave us power” #skpoli #SaveSKLibraries #SAVEDSKLibraries

So, almost unbelievably, after a month of incredible pushback from all levels – grassroots activists and elected MLAs, rural and urban citizens, library staff and supporters, and numerous others across the province and beyond – the Sask Party announced that they were restoring *all* funding to Saskatchewan public libraries that was cut in the March 22, 2017 provincial budget.

 

Pause for a moment to let that sink in.

 

The Sask Party didn’t just say they’d impose a “cap” on the funding cuts at 30%.  Or restore fully to the regions but partially to the cities.  Or restore partial funding to the regions and none to the cities.  Or put a condition on for a provincewide operational assessment. Or make the laid off library employees do a chorus line at the next Sask Party convention for tips and drinks.

 

Today, the Sask Party government listened to the voices of thousands of citizens and gave them pretty much exactly what they asked for (okay, restoring funding to STC would’ve been the cherry on top but that’s a related but separate fight for another day.)

 

Since the cuts were announced a month ago, the song “A Design for Life” by the Welsh band, Manic Street Preachers, kept going through my head.
The first line of the song is “Libraries gave us power” and the lyrics evoke the class conflicts between the wealthy and the working classes, the power of solidarity in the face of great opposition from the powerful, and the misconceptions about working class people in general.

 

For the past month, and especially today after I heard the news, as I walked around my branch, it struck me how few people even realised what sort of threats the library was under.

 

How the things most of them took for granted – everything from computers to a quiet place to sit to a telephone they can borrow to call for a ride to somewhere to print off their application papers for a loan to a place to work on school assignments – could be threatened with near extinction by the stroke of a pen by someone who likely never used a library, never went in a library and probably had no clue what a modern library is and what it represents.

 

And what does a modern library represent?

 

No, a modern library is not about “books” – not by a long shot.  What is a library?  A library is the honest-to-god living, evolving, embodiment of democracy in our society. And today, we proved it.  And tomorrow, I hope the politicians remember that – we, the people, not they, the powerful, are also what democracy is.

 

Nearly a month ago to the day, I posted a live performance of the song “A Design for Life” with the budget cuts fresh in my mind.  Having already attended a rally protesting the cuts, I had no idea what I’d be doing next.  But I knew I’d be doing whatever I could to help libraries survive.

 

Today, while doing a bit of research, I realised that the Manics were honoured at the opening of the new Cardiff Public Library.  They had their lyric “Libraries gave us power” inscribed on a plaque that was mounted in the new library, *and* had their song performed by the Cardiff Park Arms Male Choir as part of the library’s grand opening.

 

I don’t often re-post Music Monday songs – especially so close together.

 

But I think today is a perfect time to re-post the song that, a month ago, helped me get fired up and today, helps me to celebrate.

 

Libraries gave us power indeed.
All of us.
Don’t forget it!
(If you want to jump to the choral performance of the song, it’s at 2:28.)

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