New partnership aims to bring more library services to Indigenous communities

A group of organizations is working together to bring more library services to Indigenous communities.

Currently only 6 of 306 public libraries are on First Nations reserves

A new agreement between multiple organizations aims to bring more library resources to Indigenous communities in the province. (Caio Resende/Pexels)

Out of 306 public library branches in Saskatchewan, only six are on First Nations reserves — but a team of people is working to change that.

The Saskatchewan Committee on Indigenous Library Services (SCILS) is partnering with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner and the Saskatchewan Provincial Public Library Systems to bring more library services to Indigenous communities.

"With the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action, we've moved forward looking at those actions and seeing how libraries can accommodate and meet the needs of all people," said Ruth Barker, co-chair of SCILS.

"Information is for everyone in our province."

Barker said one the main benefits of the agreement is being able to work directly with the communities to implement more library resources.

"The opportunities to develop strong relationships with our Indigenous communities is exciting."

The agreement is scheduled to be signed on Oct. 30.

New library initiatives

Barker is also the personnel and community services manager with the Southeast Regional Library (SRL), which provides library resources for residents in southeast Saskatchewan.

She says SRL recently started new initiatives to encourage reading and provide the public with more information on Indigenous cultures.

Those initiatives include 12 "take a book, trade a book" sites, said Barker, which allows people to borrow books at their leisure while the library delivers new books.

Another initiative involves take-home kits that include Indigenous stories and language development exercises.

Barker said these initiatives have been welcomed by non-Indigenous and Indigenous people.

The goal is for "people to have a better understanding and knowledge of First Nations culture."

– With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend