Chinook Regional Library may see a three per cent budget increase in early November.
It’s a different budget than in previous years — instead of a three-year budget, the board is presenting one year only. The change comes after the government initially announced a 58 per cent decrease in operational funding to seven regional libraries in Saskatchewan.
Though the government reinstated the budget, it wasn’t enough time to focus on a three-year budget. Chinook Library regional director Jean McKendry says the proposed increase will help provide new items to the library such as e-Books. She says this is an area that needs more funds, and the three per cent increase can help.
“For us, an e-Book can cost upwards of $100,” she said. “Not every e-Book will cost that but compared to a paper copy, those will cost around $40.
“This is because the publishers of the e-Books only allow a certain amount of downloads per book, and then after those are all up, we must buy it again.”
e-Books are a form of advancing with the times for the libraries and a means of providing different content. But e-Book prices have made it difficult, so libraries carry fewer of them since the cost is much higher than a physical copy.
Take for instance the Kindle edition of Lena Dunham’s bestselling memoir “Not that Kind of Girl” retails for $14.99 at Amazon.ca. But the book’s publisher, Random House, charges Canadian libraries $85 per copy of the e-Book — five times more, according to the Canadian Library Association.
The budget increase comes after experiencing population growth in the region, mostly in Swift Current. The amount each town or city has to allocate to the libraries is calculated based on a population multiplied by a base rate of $14.94. Towns such as Maple Creek that experienced a population drop will, in fact, pay less, according to McKendry.
“Right now Maple Creek pays $46,004 for libraries services in the town,” she said. “But because the population decreased in Maple Creek, the amount the town will pay this year will be $631 less than last year,” she said.
The proposed budget will require a two-thirds majority vote to be passed and approved. If it is not approved, the Chinook Library will proceed with a zero per cent increase.
“A zero per cent increase would mean that we would have less money to do the things we do,” said McKendry.
Libraries in the Chinook Region have stood the test of time after facing potential cuts early in the year, according to McKendry.
“The publicity surrounding the budget cuts made people learn more about our libraries. Our libraries are also more involved in the community level than they have in the past.”
The Chinook Regional Library budget will be presented Nov. 4 in Swift Current. Members of the public are welcome to attend and share any thoughts and ideas about their local libraries. October 15-21 will be Libraries Matter Week. It is a province-wide, annual event, which promotes the resources and services that libraries have to offer. The Saskatchewan Library Association has presented this week-long celebration since 1976.