LIBRARIES UNDER THREAT – AGAIN?
Are the province’s libraries again under threat from the provincial government? The question raises itself due to the lack of promotion of the “Government of Saskatchewan Report of Saskatchewan Libraries Engagement Survey.” The survey was announced on Jan. 10, 2019, and was only available for 15 days closing on Jan. 25, and is only available online. The lack of advertising for the survey and the short time it is available raises dubious questions as to the government’s motives. Had they taken out a public notice in community newspapers, the response to the survey would have been more signiﬁcant than the reaction they would likely elicit from this quietly delivered online-only survey. We know this for a fact as the 2018 AdCanada Media study shows readers of community newspapers are twice as likely to respond to government notices and advertising than websites and social media combined. The research also shows that 75 percent of residents have ‘signiﬁcant trust’ in their community newspaper, whereas with social media only 23 percent trust what they see. For websites, the percentage struggles to reach 26 percent. Social media lately has come under ﬁre for blatant lying about how they have changed algorithms to force users to pay to have their content seen and also lied about the number who saw the ad. The algorithms also divert content to preferred users, so not everyone actually sees the content they wish to look at. Why the Saskatchewan government doesn’t advertise in community papers when it comes to community concerns is concerning. Governments the world over have a tendency to ‘hide things’ from the public they serve, which is understandable when it comes to security. But when livelihoods and public services are at stake, then more transparency is needed through public notices. Rural Saskatchewan is still feeling the effects at the loss of the Saskatchewan Transport Company, a jewel in the crown for the province is now gone. An example of livelihoods and services disappearing for the public is the Brexit ﬁasco in Europe. The lack of transparency, bizarre thinking and political bickering is astounding. One example of utter contempt for the public was an experiment to see if trade could still continue and business could even export to Europe. The UK government paid tens of thousands of pounds to transport companies to use their semis to stage traffic congestion on the main route into Dover, the most prominent and busiest port in the UK. It was an attempt to prove they could handle congestion at the port. In total 89 semis participated. But here’s the kicker the port processes over 8,000 semis every 24 hours! If that mistake isn’t bad enough, the UK government, in realization they needed more ferry companies, proceeded to award 14 million pounds ($24 million) to a company that has never run a ferry service and has no ships, and no trading history. To make matters worse, the company lifted its terms and conditions for the contract from a pizza service website! We kind of wonder then if every trucker will receive free garlic bread with every ferry crossing. The lack of public notice concerning the library survey elicits fears of underhand ethics by the Sask. government. Should we be worried about our rural libraries’ future? I would say we should be. AJL