The library wants to increase the budget to complete projects and address wage issues

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The library has applied for a grant of $ 1,235,932 for the next year, an increase of $ 29,479 from this year.

The Moose Jaw Public Library is asking the city council to increase its operating budget by 2.44 percent in 2022, which would help it complete three projects that the 2020 pandemic failed.

The library has applied for a grant of $ 1,235,932 for the next year, an increase of $ 29,479 from this year.

One of the goals for the next year is to make the building more welcoming by improving customer service and the children’s library, and possibly expanding the rental space.

Other goals focus on lifelong learning and prioritizing technology development as well as completing a strategic planning cycle for better organizational effectiveness.

Acting senior librarian Shevaun Ruby spoke with the city council on November 24 during a budget discussion session. Ruby provided an update on the library’s activities and the reason for their funding request.

In 2020, the library closed and moved to the curb to provide materials to residents while resources shifted towards virtual offerings, she said.

However, some normalcy returned in 2021 as it continued to offer roadside services and limited in-person browsing before fully reopening in June. It increased the hours by removing the Sunday closings and adding temporary evening hours while personal programming was restored.

“We’ve heard a lot of comments from customers about how they missed finding books for themselves, and we can understand that because who doesn’t love the random nature of browsing libraries?” Said Ruby.

During the summer heat wave, it was crucial to let more people into the building, she noted. The library provided people with water, air conditioning, and internet.

The library reintroduced a program for adults and children in the summer, with lots of outdoor programs, as the weather was great. The organization has also partnered with City Hall and the Moose Jaw Literacy Network to provide literacy services.

Because many people experienced “zoom fatigue,” the library formed several personal groups including an avid knitters program, teenage programs, and a new movie club similar to the book club, she continued. Visiting nursing homes and providing books to these residents has also resumed.

Computer station usage skyrocketed in July as employees found computers are busy almost every hour of the week, Ruby said. Staff have also helped customers access their eHealth accounts as residents now need vaccine papers to access most locations.

The number of visitors is slowly increasing, but those numbers have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, and as the circulation of physical items increases, so does the use of digital items, she continued.

“After our stacks are back up, our public computers are back, and most of our programs are personal, we actually got a sense of normalcy,” said Ruby.

The library is asking for an above-average budget increase due to wage problems, she explained. The next year there are 27 pay periods – 2022 is a leap year – while there are usually 26.2 pay periods; this problem occurs every 11 years.

To address this issue, the library plans to put money in reserves so it won’t have to ask for more money in 2033, she added.

Councilors Crystal Froese and Heather Eby both commended the library for adapting to the pandemic and its stressful effects.

Froese noted that the library is one of the most crowded places in Moose Jaw, and has some of the most diverse programs out there.

Eby noted that the library has grown in importance over the past 20 months and has adjusted its service by keeping track of more digital resources and activities.

The next budget discussion session is Wednesday December 8th.


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