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Give a man a budget cut, he’ll never read again

author: ella mikkola | graphics editor

Credit: Ella Mikkola

Now, five years later, I live on the opposite side of the globe, studying filmmaking. Those DVD’s I borrowed every week ignited my passion for films.

I was never much of a reader in my childhood. Most of the time, my library card was used to borrow some Harry Potter books which ended up sitting in a pile in the corner of my room, collecting dust and receiving a fifth delay notice after being forgotten in that corner for weeks.

It wasn’t until the second year of my undergraduate as a journalism student, when I found out that libraries have a huge selection of DVD’s that can be borrowed for free. After that, my card has been in active use. I remember carrying home all sorts of films from old European classics to Japanese kung-fu films every week.

Now, five years later, I live on the opposite side of the globe, studying filmmaking. Those DVD’s I borrowed every week ignited my passion for films. One could argue that you do not need a library anymore to watch films, anyone can stream the films online, but that’s not true. Libraries carry a collection of films that are not always available online. In addition to Hollywood films, they have a variety of old classics and independent films that were once screened in a Film Festival but then ended up in a rare collection DVD. It was not only a desire for filmmaking I got at that time, but I also learned to look at the world differently through watching those films.

Free information for everyone: that is the meaning of a library in its simplicity. What free information offers us as human beings is equality. Access to knowledge, culture and history makes us equal citizens in whichever country we live in. When one of these three things is taken away from us, a social hierarchy within a country becomes unbalanced, and the gap between the one who holds power and the one who doesn’t grows deeper. When one has access to knowledge only through a better bank account balance, the one without that balance becomes powerless.

This is exactly what Brad Wall is doing with his new budget as on March 22: the Saskatchewan Provincial Government announced a 58 per cent cut for the Regional Public Library system. This incomprehensible cut will have the biggest impact on the rural and remote communities that depend on the Saskatchewan’s rural public library system that gets it’s services through the Regional Library Headquarters. According to the Southeast Regional Library, the libraries located in the rural areas will lose their digital resources such as e-books, music and movies streams, as well as downloadable newspapers. There will be no new materials purchased like books, DVD’s and magazines, no payroll system or administrative support, no literacy programs such as Aboriginal Storytelling Month, neither will there be any I.T. support for staff and public access computers available and the list goes on.

This 58 per cent cut will exploit individuals in province who wouldn’t have access to information and services without the local library. I am now capable of watching Netflix films through my partners account, but I wouldn’t have had that access five years ago, not only because Netflix didn’t exist, but because I wouldn’t have been able to afford the monthly fee as a 22-year old university student. Access to free information was and still continues to be an important part of my personal and professional development. It is not enough to have a library that stands in its old place with no services, simply offering the same three years old magazine that you have already read twice. Everyone should have access to up to date knowledge about their local, national and international communities.

In the end, I can’t help but think about where this money that is now being cut, could have been saved. I googled the cost for building the great new Mosaic Stadium and the result was $278 million. This is old information, but it’s a good reminder of whose cultural experiences are being supported by this government, namely the Rider fans that can afford a ticket.

“With a single ticket as low as 32 dollars, Mosaic Stadium can continue to be accessible destination for all of Rider Nation.” – New Mosaic Stadium website

For the rest of us, the accessible destinations are getting more and more difficult to find.

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