Saturday Snap – #saveSKLibraries Panel at #saskLA2017 Conference

It was a fairly last minute decision but after debating back and forth for the past couple months, after library funding was restored, I decided to apply to attend the Sask Library Association conference in Waskesiu.

(I know the conference location was probably picked 18-24 months ago but the optics of having a conference at a swanky resort after facing major budget cuts isn’t that great.  I debated making a motion at the AGM that the next conference be held at the Motel 6 in Swift Current!) 😉

As always, the conference was great for the program – keynotes, breakout sessions, etc. and also for networking and catching up with people.  But in reality, a big part of the reason I wanted to go was to hear and be part of the conversation about the library cuts – how they happened, how we fought back, and how we’re going to make sure they *never* happen again.

I wasn’t the only one doing something at the last minute.  SLA scrambled and pulled together a panel discussion on the library cuts that featured (from left to right in the above photo): Michael Shires (President of SLA), Merilee Rasmussen (who spearheaded the legally binding petition which gathered 20,000 signatures in a month), Christine Freethy (creator of the “Save Sask Libraries” Facebook group), Joylene Campbell (former Provincial Librarian and founder of the “Concerned Citizens for Libraries” group) and moderator, Judy Nicholson, Executive Director of the Sask Library Association.

I might try to do a summary of the session (or share my thoughts on the entire SLA conference) in a future post but anyhow, it was great to get some more insight into the many moving parts that all worked to get library funding restored.

(At the same time, that was another realization at the conference – even though there was a bit of a celebratory mood because public libraries in the province were basically saved, there wasn’t a lot of formal acknowledgement of the impact of the cuts on other sectors.  I sat at breakfast the first morning with a woman who works in school libraries and had found out that a bunch of people had lost their jobs.  And I talked to many academic librarians who were trying to figure out budget cuts of around 5% in their own institutions.  So still much work to do to fight back against the damage to other libraries and so many other areas of our society as well.)

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