Assistant Deputy Minister of Education Clint Repski said he hopes to get as many survey participants as they can get, as they want to hear loud and clear from the public (photo by Marna McManus).

As part of the library engagement process, the public is now invited to provide their feedback on Legislative Secretary Terry Dennis’s Report of Saskatchewan Public Libraries Engagement.

Over the course of the engagement period, Dennis and the panel met with representatives from the 11 public library systems in the province, including board members, staff and municipal representatives. Saskatchewan’s public library systems operate more than 300 library branches.

“The first phase was to work with the library stakeholder groups, which was phase one, which was going to culminate in the report,” said Clint Repski, Assistant Deputy Minister of Education. “The report has been presented to the Minister, and as part of the initial commitment, we’re going to seek public feedback on that report, and that’s the stage that we find ourselves in now.”

The survey and report, which are available online, outlines eight themes identified during the engagement process by Saskatchewan’s library sector. The themes presented will now form the basis of the next stage of the engagement process; to ask the public to provide feedback on the report.

“The purpose of the public survey at this point in time is to make sure that those themes are correct,” he said. “We want to make sure the public has an opportunity to comment on those themes. If there was something that was missed or something that needs to be elaborated on, we want to hear directly from the public on what that would look like.”

The eight themes identified in the report: Funding Structure and Predictability; Provincial Public Library Strategic Plan; One Card, One Province; Communication with the Provincial Library; Governance Training; Indigenization; Value of Public Libraries; and Legislation.

Repski said there was no end-game in mind other than accurate representation of both the library sector and the public.

“This was done in a truly open fashion, explained Repski. “We wanted to hear what the libraries had to say, and now we want to hear what the public has to say. It didn’t start with a goal in mind, it was very much to hear those open comments. We have the report now. Once we hear back from the public, that is going to inform the next steps.”

“I know that people value the public libraries, and we’re looking forward to what they have to say,” he added.

This process fulfills the commitment made by the Government of Saskatchewan in the spring of 2017.

“We committed to providing the public an opportunity to have their voice heard, and we’re doing just that,” said Repski. “I hope we can get as many as we can get, we want to hear loud and clear from the public.”

The engagement sessions began in Saskatoon on October 10 and concluded December 10 in Regina. In addition to holding in-person engagement sessions with representatives of all the province’s library systems, the panel also conducted in-person engagement sessions with other library stakeholders: Saskatchewan Library Trustees Association; Saskatchewan Library Association; Multitype Library Board; Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association; and Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities.

The panel also received and considered several written submissions from library sector stakeholders, including the Library Services for Saskatchewan Aboriginal Peoples, in preparing their report.

“That was an opportunity for the library sector to tell us what’s working well and what’s not working as well, that culminated in those themes,” said Repski.

Deputy Premier and Minister of Education Gordon Wyant commended the library sector, and the panel led by Dennis, on the work that was done to develop this report.

The survey will remain open until January 25. Feedback from the survey will be compiled for consideration by the Minister of Education.

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