Restructuring the Saskatoon Public Library

For months, people have been asking what restructuring the Saskatoon Public Library means and wondering how the services and library staff they value so highly will be affected.

The Saskatoon Public Library Board and library administration have provided the public with no details on what the restructuring will actually look like apart from leading to a new “community led” service plan.

Library workers have been given a little more information which has been characterized as confidential internal communication. Library workers have not been able to answer the public’s questions about the restructuring at the library without transgressing library administration’s publication ban.

For those who are left wondering about the impact of restructuring at Saskatoon Public Library, some clues are available through examining public documents available on the City of Saskatoon’s website.

We know for example that the library plans to spend almost $700,000.00 less in compensation for library workers, while continuing to hire well paid mangers.

The Saskatoon Public Library’s 2018 Operating & Capital Budget also reveals plans for major changes to funding levels between 2017 and 2018 for Saskatoon Public Library departments at the Frances Morrison Library.

The following departments are scheduled to receive no funding in the 2018 budget:

  • Children’s Services
  • Fine Arts
  • Adult & Information Services
  • Circulation/Interlibrary Loan/Young Adult Services
  • Central Library Public Services
  • Outreach Services
  • Local History.

One of the new services called “Central Access” is budgeted to receive $1,564,500.00 in 2018. It’s difficult to speculate what these funding changes mean for public library services and staff, we do know that staff specialists were among the 20 library workers laid off in May 2017.

Saskatoon Public Library workers believe it is time library users and taxpayers ask the Library Board and administration some hard questions on their plans and how they will affect library staff and services.

The Saskatoon Public Library receives 95% of its funding from the City of Saskatoon, and continues to enjoy 100% of its budget. The City of Saskatoon offers publicaly accessible information on its operations. It’s time library administration offered some transparency on their plans to spend taxpayers’ money.


The Saskatoon Star Phoenix has published a number of letters from concerned library users about the Saskatoon Public Library’s proposed restructuring. On Jan. 8 the SSP published a letter concerning staffing in the Local History Department. On Jan. 4 a letter calling for expressions of concern to be sent to Mayor, Saskatoon City Council and the Saskatoon Public Library Board was published.  On Dec. 22 a  letter about the proposed restructuring of the Saskatoon Public Library and the injustice of the treatment of Saskatoon Public Library workers during this process was published in the SSP.

Concerned library users are writing to the media about issues at the Saskatoon Public Library, you should know that correspondence to the Saskatoon Public Library Board is not publicly published when Board minutes are posted on the library’s website.  Correspondence to City Council is published with City Council minutes, there is a public record of the concerns of library users, citizens and taxpayers. You can contact the Mayor and members of City Council (who appoint the library’s Board of Directors) here  Saskatoon City Council

Library users and Saskatoon Public Library workers are very concerned about layoffs, the elimination of jobs and the way public library services are changing. With the help of CUPE National we’ve made some youtube videos.

Saskatoon Public Library has been in the news. The public and the media have been responding to changes at the library with letters to the editor of the Star Phoenix and in news reports and columns.  Just click on the links below to read these. They are writing about the effects of plans to restructure staff and services at the library.

Columnist Phil Tank described the library as “scarred” as the City of Saskatoon budget process began.

Now the approved budget reveals almost $700,000.00 less in compensation for Saskatoon Public Library workers, terms like bleeding from open wounds seem more appropriate.

Concerns about Saskatoon Public Library services and staff have been raised since 20 library workers were laid off in May 2017.  At that time, the Saskatoon Public Library was receiving 100% of its’ budget and has continued to do so.

The President of CUPE 2669’s library workers is concerned.

Concerns have been raised by supporters of the library’s Local History Department. Some of their letters to the management and board of the Saskatoon Public Library are linked to the post below.

Taxpayers and library users who value public library workers and the services they provide have written letters to the editor.

Some supporters have written about the Saskatoon Public Library’s record of maintaining worker’s positions and the atmosphere the current management and board of the library have created.

Other supporters write that public libraries are critical to democracy.

Saskatoon Public Library workers have been concerned for quite some about the governance of the library and its’ transparency. While library board minutes are posted to the library’s website, correspondence to the board and presentations from the public are not.

You can find information on the compensation paid to the Saskatoon Public Library’s CEO in the board minutes, as CBC News has reported.

The restructuring being implemented at the Saskatoon Public Library has been planned to move the library to a community led service model, although no consultations with the community have yet been held. Library workers are left wondering how many of the concerns of taxpayers and library users are being heard by members of Saskatoon City Council and the management and Board of Directors of the Saskatoon Public Library.

The Saskatoon Public Library has finally gone public with their plans for restructuring at the library. A full page ad appeared in the Star Phoenix on Thurs. Oct. 5 announcing a new “service model” and SPL’s CEO gave interviews to the media about their plans.

While the new service model is being described as community led and SPL is saying there will be a “place” after restructuring for all staff, Saskatoon Public Library workers are very concerned about their jobs and the future of public library services in Saskatoon.

The Saskatoon Public Library laid off 20 employees on May 30, 2017, many of these employees were subject experts who provided access to specialized library services. SPL has maintained 100% of its’ budget, no library funding has been cut.

Public Library workers are not the only ones concerned about the future of library services, prominent writers and historians have been expressing their concerns to SPL’s Board of Directors regarding the services available in Local History Department.

Guy Vanderhaege (pdf) and Prof. Jim Miller (pdf) have contacted SPL’s Board of Directors to express their concerns.

Bill Waiser wrote about the value of the Saskatoon Public Library Local History Department’s services in an opinion piece for CBC news.

Saskatoon Public Library workers are concerned about the future of ALL public library services under the proposed new service model and restructuring at SPL. If you value the public library services you’ve enjoyed for many years in Saskatoon, please contact SPL’s Board of Directors (who are appointed by City Council), your City Councillor and the Mayor. Please show your support for Saskatoon Public Library workers!


We have new Facebook page where you can read about issues at the Saskatoon Public Library and post your support.
       Save Saskatoon Public Libraries Facebook



Concerned about how layoffs at Saskatoon Public Library will affect the services they provide? In partnership with CUPE National, Saskatoon Public Library workers have produced a flyer.


Flyer PDF


Elimination of Jobs at the Saskatoon Public Library

On May 30, 2017 the Saskatoon Public Library eliminated the jobs of 20 employees.  As some of these jobs were part time and job shares, the reduction in employees at the library results in the loss of 14 full time equivalent positions. The positions eliminated include:

  • Business Librarian
  • Information Services Coordinator
  • Fine Arts Coordinator
  • Fine Arts Film Specialist
  • Fine Arts Music Specialist
  • Legal Librarian
  • Literacy Librarian
  • Local History Coordinator
  • Music Cataloguer
  • 7 Paging Monitor Positions
  • 3 Public Service Clerk Positions
  • Young Adult Services Assistant

All of the employees who jobs were eliminated worked at the Frances Morrison Central Library, with the exception of the Music Cataloguer who worked in the Collection Services Department.

The employees whose jobs were eliminated received less than 1 day’s notice, 2 ¾ day’s notice and 3 day’s notice.

Depending on how long the employees had worked at the Saskatoon Public Library, they will receive no pay, 4 weeks’ pay, 6 weeks’ pay, or 8 weeks’ pay. No employees were offered early retirement packages or pay packages for the elimination of their jobs.

Many of the people whose jobs were eliminated had worked for the Saskatoon Public Library for a very long time, some for over 30 years. Some employees had recently moved to Saskatoon to begin work at the library.

The people whose jobs were eliminated were responsible for performing a wide range of work for the Saskatoon Public Library. Many of the librarians and specialists whose jobs were eliminated worked with community organizations and/or were responsible for ordering and maintaining collections at the library. The people who worked in the Public Services Clerk positions whose jobs were eliminated worked the Circulation Desk at the Frances Morrison Central Library. The people who worked in the Page Monitor positions that were eliminated worked receiving and sending out library materials requested through the province of Saskatchewan’s Integrated Library System (SILS).

In March, 2017 another Saskatoon Public Library Public Services Clerk position which was held by CUPE 2669’s then President was eliminated; 3 paging jobs in the Local History Department were also eliminated.

CUPE 2669 and the management of the Saskatoon Public Library are attempting to develop a fair and equitable process for the employees who have lost their jobs and are qualified to “bump” into jobs that remain at the library.

Saskatoon Public Library has continued to advertise and fill non-unionized managerial positions including 2 new branch managers and a Director of Human Resources who began working at the library within the past 3 months. In July, 2 additional new library branch manager positions were created.

Saskatoon Public Library’s budget was not reduced in 2017; funding for the provincial portion of the library’s budget was restored on April 24, 2017.

Provincial funding restored

The City of Saskatoon’s portion of the public library’s budget was also approved in a revised civic budget on April 24, 2017; funding to the public library was not cut.

Saskatoon Public Library’s CEO Carol Cooley has said the layoff of staff and the elimination of public library jobs they held are in preparation for the library’s 2018 budget and necessary to minimize the tax increase the library presents to City Council.

SPL CEO on elimination of jobs

The City of Saskatoon’s Mayor and City Council have said that the jobs held by City of Saskatoon employees will be maintained despite the $9 million budget shortfall the City faces from the cancellation of the Government of Saskatchewan’s grants-in-lieu payments.

Maintaining City of Saskatoon jobs

News Articles

CBC: Saskatoon Public Library lays off 20 workers (May 31, 2017)
CTV: Saskatoon Public Library lays off 22 staff (May 31, 2017)
CUPE Saskatchewan: Union surprised by sudden layoffs at Saskatoon Public Library (May 31, 2017)
SILS Lending “may be a luxury that we are no longer able to afford in its current form.” says SPL CEO Carol Cooley
Saskatchewan Government Reverses Decision to Cut Public Library Funding

Contact Info

The Saskatoon Public Library plays an important role in our community providing critical access to information, services and programs for the people of Saskatoon. CUPE 2669’s members work hard to provide these services and are proud of the work they do.


Have questions?  Email us at

CUPE2669 asks that all media requests be directed to our CUPE  representative:
Rhonda Heisler

Introduction to Stewarding Workshop

Mon. Nov. 6, 6-9pm; Tues. Nov. 7, 9-4pm

Saskatoon, North Battleford & Prince Albert Locals

CUPE Saskatoon Area Office – 250 Cardinal Cres.

Saskatoon, SK

Registration Deadline        October 23, 2017

What does a CUPE steward do? If you are a new steward and want to learn how to help CUPE members solve workplace problems, this introductory workshop is for you! In this workshop you will learn:

  • The role of a steward
  • Investigating workplace problems
  • Dealing with workplace complaints
  •  Meeting with management
  • Filing a grievance
  • CUPE’s structure
Please remember all CUPE workshops are a Scent Free environment