It is disheartening to hear that the Bienfait Public Library has fallen on tough times and is destined for closure at the end of this week unless some white knight, disguised as a librarian, comes riding in at the 11th hour to save the day.
The Southeast Regional Library system and the local library board have been unable to find a librarian to fill the part-time lead role at the Bienfait facility. The vacancy has existed since May and an employee search has come up empty.
This will have to be considered a major setback for this fiercely independent community that is located just a few short kilometres from Estevan. This is a town that has refused to be swallowed up by their bigger neighbour. Bienfait has been able to retain its very own identity most efficiently over the years by not having to rely on Estevan for much in the way of infrastructure, social, cultural or recreational items. They have their own drummer and they dance to the local tunes and that has to be applauded.
But they don't have a librarian and while we're certain Bienfait's library patrons will be warmly welcomed at the Estevan Public Library, we also feel pretty sure that isn't what their local population wants as a fix for their problem.
Anyone who was around when the Bienfait library got underway in a very modest way a number of years ago, can attest to the fact that this is a community that deserves their library, especially after it was expanded to new quarters with upgraded programming and the additional required technology. The place appeared to be poised to enter the next stage of advancement in the provincial system.
One can only presume that their local library board and the regional board have already explored the possibility of combining the Weldon School library services with the public branch in a fashion similar to what happened in Carnduff a few years ago. That was a match that appeared to work with the financial and intellectual input of an eager community. The combination can be a natural fit since schools are already a part of the greater community these days anyway and not just restricted to registered students and educators.
We also don't know how far and wide the search went for a librarian seeing as how it is a job with limited hours, which probably eliminated some potential candidates who would be seeking full employment.
So that leads to another suggestion that perhaps the Bienfait facility could become a branch operation that is fed personnel from Estevan, where fully employed and paid staff could schedule additional employees and hours that would be dedicated to keeping Bienfait's library operational in Bienfait.
We do understand there is a huge sea change in library demographics currently underway with all kinds of electronic, digital and online opportunities, but there is also something cohesive about retaining a friendly, comfortable community centre where anyone can go, pick up a book and read for free while visiting others or participating in a small but significant library-driven project.
When a community loses that, they lose a significant chunk of their identity and we don't want to see that happen in Beantown. The town deserves better.