Education minister defends library cuts, cites declining use

Critics are assailing Saskatchewan Education Minister Don Morgan for suggesting the province has too many libraries.

Libraries facing multimillion-dollar cuts; minister says Sask. needs to rethink the facilities

Libraries in Saskatoon and Regina saw their provincial funding cut in the 2017 provincial budget. (CBC)

The opposition NDP is hammering Saskatchewan Education Minister Don Morgan for suggesting the province has too many libraries.

During Thursday's question period Morgan again defended the multimillion-dollar cuts to libraries in the provincial budget by saying that usage has gone down significantly in the last decade. 

"Items checked out of the libraries since '07 has dropped by 1.6 million. Number of library cards down by 175,000," Morgan said in question period. 

Earlier this week, he suggested that too many small towns in Saskatchewan have more than one facility for book-borrowers.

Provincial funding for Saskatoon and Regina's libraries were completely axed in last week's budget: a $1.3-million reduction.

The future of libraries is leaning more towards electronic media. I'm not saying you shouldn't have bricks and mortar, but there certainly is a shift.- Don Morgan, Saskatchewan education minister

Regional libraries had their funding cut by $3.5 million. Library officials said it represented a 58 per cent cut to the regional library system, adding that many services, including inter-branch lending, e-books, and literacy programs, are now on the chopping block.

"The Sask. Party doesn't seem to understand that the library is more than just books,"  NDP MLA Carla Beck said in question period Thursday. 

"While may be fewer people checking out books, library usage is way up," she said.

Saskatchewan Education Minister Don Morgan and NDP MLA Carla Beck squared off in the legislature over library cuts. (CBC)

Morgan said earlier this week that too many rural Saskatchewan communities with small populations still have two libraries — one at the community centre and one at the school.

He said the cuts reflect the new reality for libraries in the 21st century, where fewer people are taking out physical books and more people are accessing services online.

"The future of libraries is leaning more towards electronic media. I'm not saying you shouldn't have bricks and mortar, but there certainly is a shift," Morgan said earlier this week.

The provincial budget saw millions in cuts across the board as the government grapples with a deficit and low commodity prices.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?