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Saskatchewan Book Bureau

In 1936, the Book Bureau was organized to supply textbooks, reference books, and library books at a uniform and reasonable price throughout the province. In 1940, the Book Bureau opened a display of all reference and library books approved by the Department of Education. This display was open to teachers and students, and was a welcome opportunity to review the books prior to purchasing. It proved to be a valuable complement to the descriptive catalogue and supplementary lists of approved titles provided by the Department. Although the school library was deemed to be an integral part of the school program, the Depression years created great difficulty for school boards in maintaining their libraries; this was particularly noticeable in some rural areas. To address this challenge, the Department of Education provided in 1941-42 a special grant for rural districts with low assessments for the purchase of supplementary reading materials. These books were purchased through the Book Bureau and forwarded to the districts. This practice continued for several years.

In the late 1940s and into the 1950s, the Book Bureau worked closely with School Libraries in many areas such as selecting books and editions, providing book displays for conventions, and offering better library service to the schools. The Book Bureau supplied the books for workshops and laboratories at the Summer School each year. In 1950-51, the Book Bureau began experimenting with a “special ordering” process for library books. Under this system, a list of suitable library titles was prepared by the supervisor of school libraries. The Bureau did not stock the books, but rather would collect orders from schools and districts, then place a bulk order - thereby providing a better rate of discount from the publishers. In 1971, the Book Bureau experimented with stocking a number of textbooks, workbooks, and some auxiliary materials on a consignment basis. This was in addition to the regular practice of stocking authorized books and special-ordering other materials not regularly stocked.

In the early 1990s, the implementation of Core Curriculum had a significant impact on the operation of the Book Bureau. The practice of “resource-based learning” saw dramatic increases in the number of books and in the type of materials recommended for use in schools. This resulted in a name change for the Book Bureau - to Saskatchewan Learning Resources Distribution Centre (LRDC). Over the ensuing years, the ever-growing lists of recommended learning resources proved to be incompatible with a bulk warehousing operation, and on March 31, 2003, the LRDC operation was discontinued. The Department continues to provide a retail service for the sale and distribution of documents and resources that it produces.

Leanne Miles

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