The provincial government is putting a library capital project on the shelf.
Jan Smith, Palliser Regional Library director, said public library systems across Saskatchewan are disappointed with the items in last week’s provincial budget, or more specifically, the lack of one particular item.
The budget didn’t include anticipated funding to replace eight separate computer cataloguing systems, used by the 10 districts, with a single integrated library circulation system.
“We had a golden opportunity to create a catalogue that is open to all Saskatchewan,” she said.
Districts have to replace their soon-to-be decommissioned Dynix circulation systems within the next couple years. Normally, the various library districts change their expiring software at differing times from each other.
Smith said the Dynix decommission provides a rare opportunity for all libraries to create one shared system. The maximum cost for the project would be $4.6 million.
Anne Warriner, Moose Jaw Public Library head librarian, said an integrated catalogue service would have benefited the local library, would make it easier to order books from anywhere in Saskatchewan and would have provided a networking tool between districts.
“If everyone is on the same system, we’re all talking to each other,” she said.
Darren McKee, Saskatchewan Education assistant deputy minister, said the government didn’t want to exclude the integrated circulation system from the 2008 budget.
However, the government only had a limited amount of funds to deal with several capital projects across Saskatchewan, so it had to prioritize.
Regarding the education ministry, of which public libraries are a part, McKee said the $117 million allocated to capital projects had to go towards upgrading kindergarten to Grade 12 facilities, which pose health and safety concerns.
“We had to make some tough decisions and this was one of them,” he said, adding just because the library project was passed over this year, doesn’t mean it won’t make the budget in years to come.
Warriner, for one, is hopeful the ministry can fund the project in the future.
In the meantime, Smith said Palliser and other library systems in Saskatchewan that can afford it will try to create an integrated system on their own before the current cataloguing program is recalled.
She added an integrated system would give rural libraries all the access to information the public enjoys in Regina or Saskatoon.