Education Minister Don Morgan is asking Saskatchewan libraries not to shut down library-to-library loans, which are due to end next week in response to a $4.8-million provincial budget cut to library funding.
Library officials say the program is being shut down because sending books between provincial library systems is no longer sustainable after the cuts.
But the minister announced at question period on Tuesday he is urging libraries not to cancel the $1.1-million "One Province, One Library Card" program.
"This morning, I directed the officials to meet with the regional libraries to determine the best ways of restructuring to make sure that we can maintain and continue the inter-library loan service," said Morgan.
"We have a large investment made in that service and it's something we will continue."
However, the minister did not proffer any additional funding to continue the program.
New budget 'closed the borders between libraries'
The total $4.8-million cut to libraries included $1.3 million for the Saskatoon and Regina library systems.
Earlier on Tuesday, library officials said the library-to-library loan system could not continue under the new, smaller library budget.
"With a single stroke of its red pen, the provincial government has closed the borders between libraries in this province," said Sean Quinlan, chair of the Regina Public Library board of directors, in a news release.
Shutting down the program
According to the Saskatoon Public Library, any books that are already in transit will still be delivered to the card holders.
Inter-branch holds and loans will still be available.
Any library card holder from the province will still be able to use their library cards in both Regina and Saskatoon, although that system is currently under review.
Libraries will also still be able to request books from other provinces.
More decisions on limiting service will be made in the next few weeks, library officials say.