Government of Saskatchewan
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           Sunday, May 29, 2016

Province-Wide Public Library System

Saskatchewan residents receive public library services through a province-wide network of libraries created by The Public Libraries Act, 1996.  The provincial public library system is composed of 10 library systems that blanket the province, including;

  • seven regional library systems;
  • two municipal library systems, in Regina and Saskatoon;
  • a federation of northern libraries; and
  • the Saskatchewan Provincial Library

Every resident of Saskatchewan is entitled to borrow library materials, without payment of a fee, subject to other reasonable conditions established by the public library board.

The provincial public library system ensures that all residents of Saskatchewan have equitable access to basic library services, including:

  1. the ability to find the 3.8 million books and 400,000 other library materials, held by public libraries in Saskatchewan, through an online union catalogue
  2. the ability to borrow books and other library materials from any public library in Saskatchewan by attending in-person, or online, or
  3. the ability to request to borrow books and library materials from other Saskatchewan libraries through your public library branch and from out-of-province Libraries through an interlibrary loan; and
  4. the creation of autonomous library boards, composed of municipally appointed representatives, who establish the policies and services for their community or the public library system in their area. About 2,500 volunteers serve as public library board members

Public Library Usage

Since 2000, circulation of library materials, province-wide, has remained relatively constant at around 10 million items per year.  At the same time, usage of online resources has increased dramatically.  For example, when online magazines were introduced in 1999, there were over 150,000 online searches preformed.  In 2010, that number has reached 1,760,000 searches. These trends indicated that the demand for traditional services - books for leisure reading and independent learning - remains strong, while the demand for library resources to be made accessible through the Internet, is very high and can be expected to continue increasing.

Maps of the provincial public library system.

Strategic Plan 2007-2012

This strategic plan was developed by the directors of the ten public library systems at a Planning Retreat that was held in June, 2007. It represents the overall goals of the entire province-wide public library system. Each library system will also have their own strategic plans related to the goals, objectives and activities that will be implemented within a library system. Library Board Chairs and Directors indicated that trustees should be involved in the province-wide strategic plan through their directors and SLTA.

Regional Libraries

There are seven regional libraries in the province. A regional library represents a group of cities, towns, villages and rural municipalities that have joined together to deliver library services. These municipalities create a regional library, operated from a central location. Each municipality in the region appoints one representative to serve on a regional library board. This representative must also be a member of the local library board. A regional library board is a corporation.  Because the regional library board may have between 75 to 200 members, the regional library board then elects an executive committee of 9-12 members. The regional library board delegates responsibility to the executive committee for:

  • initiating policy development;
  • managing the annual budget;
  • making recommendations for improvements to the regional library system and its services; and
  • hiring a regional library director.

The regional library director is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations and for hiring and supervising staff for the regional library and, in most cases, all local branch libraries within the region.

The first public regional library system was established in north central Saskatchewan in 1950. By 1973, seven regional libraries replaced the many random private libraries that existed across the province. The seven regional libraries are:

A regional library provides central services to the region, such as shared purchasing, central collections, rotating blocks, van delivery, central staff, assist and train local staff and provide local technical support.

Branch Libraries

A local library generally provides library services to two or more municipalities (for example, one urban municipality and one or more rural municipalities). These municipalities appoint members to the local library board (comprised of 5 to 15 members). Library service is delivered to the public through a network of 310 local libraries.

The local library board is responsible, among other functions specified in the legislation, for:

  • interpreting and implementing policies set by the regional library board;
  • recommending programs, materials and services relevant to the local community to the regional library board and library director;
  • reporting to and consulting with the municipalities that created the board; and
  • performing those duties delegated by the regional library board.

The Regina and Saskatoon Public Libraries

The Regina Public Library (RPL) and the Saskatoon Public Library (SPL) provide material and library services to their city residents. The RPL and SPL were established in 1909 and 1913 respectively.

The Regina Public Library Board and the Saskatoon Public Library Board are corporations. The boards have 7 or 9 members elected by the municipal council. For Regina and Saskatoon, the mayors must be one of the members of the municipal library board. Only one other library board member may be a member of council. A member of the municipal library board, other than the mayor, can serve up to two years on the board.

The RPL and SPL also serve as special resource centres and provide access to large book collections and other types of library materials to the other public libraries throughout Saskatchewan. They may also:

  • develop special library collections and services not ordinarily provided in the regional library or northern library systems;
  • co-operate with the Provincial Library in developing province-wide services through interlibrary loan, reciprocal agreements, and collection development planning; and
  • administer funds received from the Province, grants, taxation, etc., for the purpose of resource sharing.

The Northern Library System

The northern library system is a federation of 11 community public libraries, 60 school libraries and 1 college library. It has the legislated mandate to act as the central library for northern Saskatchewan. It acts as the coordinating agency for all school, regional college, public, and special libraries. The northern library system is coordinated by a board.

The northern library system board is a corporation. It is called Pahkisimon Nuye?ah Library System. The northern library system board has 35 members. A member can serve up to two years on the board. These members are appointed from the following organizations:

  • each school division (representing the local school advisory committee or board of education);
  • each Indian band that operates a school or northern community public library;
  • each northern community public library; and
  • each regional college or post-secondary institution board that provides library services.

The northern library system board elects a 9 to 11 member executive committee, which hires a library director. The executive committee and library have similar responsibilities as those identified under the regional library system.

Northern Community Public Libraries
The 11 northern community public libraries serve as the public, school, college, and special library. Each of the 11 northern community public library also has a board (called the northern community public library board) that is appointed by the northern municipalities. Board membership ranges from 5 to 15 members. A member can serve up to two years on the board. The northern community public library boards have the legislated responsibility for hiring the necessary staff for the community libraries.

Northern community public libraries receive funding from the municipal or Band council, which is eligible for matching provincial funds, administered by the Pahkisimon Nuye?áh Library System to their set maximum amount.

The Provincial Library

The Provincial Library a branch of  the Ministry of Education, is a key component of the provincial public library system, by leading or coordinating development or resources sharing services and providing access to unique collections. Under The Public Libraries Act, 1996, the Provincial Library is responsible for:

  • acting as the central library for Saskatchewan;
  • providing cost-effective and appropriate central services to public libraries;
  • developing province-wide library policies and other library advisory functions;
  • establishing committees and task forces as necessary to assist in the development and co-ordination of planning services;
  • cooperating with individuals and organizations in matters relating to the development, organization and operation of library services;
  • administering and updating The Public Libraries Act, 1996, and Regulations as deemed necessary by the Minister; and
  • performing any other functions that the minister considers will contribute to the development of the provincial public library system and that are consistent with its objectives.

The Provincial Library also acts as a coordinator and facilitator with the boards in the provincial public library system. The employees of the Provincial Library, including the Provincial Librarian, do not serve on any of the public library system boards.


For more information, contact

Julie Arie
Director Public Library Planning
Provincial Library & Literacy Office
Ministry of Education
409A Park Street
Regina, SK S4N 5B2
Email: julie.arie@gov.sk.ca
Phone: 306-787-3005



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