We’re changing to serve you better, Saskatoon.

We aspire to be a vibrant and welcoming community space that offers a wide range of digital services, learning resources and collections. We want to be a library that reflects, serves and includes everyone who calls Saskatoon home.

Our Strategic Plan (2016-2021) sets forth an exciting and ambitious plan for growth, modernization and cultural progress for Saskatoon Public Library (SPL). This plan aligns with our vision to change lives through community connections, engagement, and inclusivity. You can read all about it here.

To realize our vision, we must take critical and necessary steps to grow, adapt and continually improve. Our city and society are changing at unprecedented rates, and SPL must be able to meet the needs of our patrons both now and into the future. We're therefore turning the page on our traditional operating model and moving toward a new one that will be energized and inspired by you.

It's called a Community-Led Service Model where decisions about our programs, services, and collections will be made in consultation with you, not for you. It's a best-practice approach that libraries have adopted across Canada and around the world.

We are transitioning from a traditional desk-based library service model to a community-led service model. The community-led service model is structured so decisions about programs, services and collections are informed through collaboration with the community. This modern and inclusive approach to library service makes it easier to connect people to library services, both within and outside of library walls.

Traditionally, public libraries have served some segments of the population better than others, and SPL is no different in that regard. The community-led service model provides a framework for removing barriers to access and creating inclusion for everyone in the community.

To operate in a community-led service model, we are transitioning into a new organizational structure that supports community engagement. The new structure includes new, flexible roles that will enable employees to identify and respond to community needs in efficient and meaningful ways. These changes were designed based on employee consultation, as well as trends and industry best practices.

These changes benefit all of our stakeholders by:

  1. Increasing SPL's ability to strategically and deliberately make a community impact—beyond access to information.
  2. Reducing structural barriers to employee success—making it easier for people to do their jobs.
  3. Unlocking the potential and productivity of SPL, resulting in a higher return on investment for the community.

Over the next two years, as we transition to this new model, SPL employees will settle into their new roles and complete training, as required.

Our goal is to reflect the needs, expectations, and interests of the unique and diverse communities, we serve. You'll be able to engage and connect with us in new ways. Even though our approach to decisions about collections, programs and services will be different, our commitment to fundamentals like children's programming, the physical collection, and Local History will remain.

Our goals for transitioning into the new service model and organizational structure are:

  1. To minimize operational and service disruptions during the transition. Therefore we will continue to provide our current services and programming.
  2. To minimize negative impacts on employees by ensuring there is a role for all existing employees in the new structure.
  3. Provide training and development to support employees who move into new roles with different qualifications.
  4. Work within our existing budget.

While some have lamented the potential decline of libraries in today's digital age, we beg to differ. Last year, patrons made over 1.4 million visits to our libraries; borrowed over 3 million items and more than 92,000 of you participated in our programs. You can read all about the foundation we're building from in our 2016 Report to Our Community here. We're proud of our legacy and rich history of being a part of the Saskatoon community, but we're eager to serve you better and do even more.

We ask for your patience and understanding as we work through this transition over the next two years, during which time our employees will be settling into new roles.

We're looking forward to writing a new chapter for SPL, together.



Questions? We've got answers.


Q: What is a community-led service model and how is it different than SPL’s current operating model?

The community-led service model is one where the library engages the community to inform our decision-making process about the library's collections, services, and programming.

In a traditional library service model, which SPL currently operates under, decisions about the library's collections, services, and programming are made solely by employees.

If you'd like to learn more about the community-led service model, you can read about it here.


Q: Does community-led mean that you consult the community about all aspects of the library?

Community-led means the public will have an opportunity to shape some aspects of the programs and services we deliver in neighbourhoods throughout the city. For instance, we may find that in one neighbourhood after-school programming is a top priority while seniors' programming is a priority in another. We would not consult on the day-to-day administration of the library.


Q: Will there be a reduction in service to the public?

No, a community-led model and the supporting organizational structure will enhance SPL's ability to make community impact - beyond access to information.


Q: What tangible differences will the public see/experience after the new model is implemented?

We anticipate providing enhanced customer service both inside and outside the library so that every employee you interact with can meet all of your needs, rather than having to move between multiple service points. These changes will be most noticeable at the downtown Frances Morrison Central Library. Essentially, we will be adopting the single-point-of-contact philosophy we currently offer at the neighbourhood branches and applying that to our downtown location. Relatedly, we will be taking the specializations that exist at our downtown location and bringing that to our neighbourhood branches. This change will result in increased employee expertise and a consistent patron experience across the system.


Q: How much more money do you need from City Hall to make this transition?

SPL doesn't need any additional funding to be able to make this transition, and we won’t be requesting an increase to the levy in 2018.


Q: After these changes are implemented, do you foresee SPL making any other future changes to its model/organizational structure?

No. SPL's new model and structure has been designed to be flexible and able to adapt to changing community needs and societal drivers moving forward.


Q: Are roles changing for SPL employees?

Yes, for some, however the majority of roles at SPL are not changing. We consulted with employees in 2016 and announced the changes in the spring of 2017. We let employees know that we are committed to supporting them during the transition. It is the goal of library administration to transition employees as quickly and efficiently and to make this process as easy on them as possible.


Q: Will any specializations be lost?

No. In fact, the overall level of expertise in the system will increase. In-depth and specialized work will continue to be performed by professional librarians, and we have removed many barriers in the new structure to enable our librarians to utilize their expertise fully. For example, currently the librarians who select materials for the collection right now also have supervisory duties and are scheduled to work on service desks, in addition to programming and outreach. In the new structure, we will have positions dedicated solely to selecting and managing the collection, in addition to a team of librarians dedicated to programming, as well as other supporting newcomers and reconciliation and in-depth reference.


Q: Will there be any job losses as a result of this change?

No. As we have assured employees, there is a place for everyone in the new structure. As we create new positions, we will discontinue old positions. However, we do not anticipate anyone experiencing gaps in employment.

The 2017 layoffs were a result of provincial cuts to municipal funding. If there is no further loss of funding, there will be no planned workforce reduction.


Q: How are employees being supported through the transition?

We consulted employees in the design of the new structure. They identified the barriers that the new structure is designed to remove. We are doing what we can to minimize the impacts by ensuring that they are well supported with information and training as we move through the transition, and we will continue to adjust as we find areas that can be improved.

A comprehensive training and development program is in place. The focus is on customer service and technology-based skills development.