The Saskatchewan Library Association (SLA) is a provincial, volunteer, charitable organization designed to further the development of library service in Saskatchewan, and through libraries, the culture of the province. The Saskatchewan Library Association includes as members individuals, institutions, and organizations, who share a common interest in library service. The majority of the operational funds for SLA are provided through Saskatchewan Lotteries and membership fees, with program funding through corporate sponsorships, and government partnerships. Formed in 1914, the Saskatchewan Library Association consisted of a group of seventeen people from urban centres who pressed the government to provide rural communities with library facilities. After four years, the organization ceased to exist. SLA formed again in 1942, when the Canadian Library Council was developing and needed provincial representation. Since that time SLA has been actively involved in legislation changes, presenting briefs to the minister in charge of libraries, and in the evolution of the provision of library service in the province. SLA provides information, advocacy, awareness, education, membership benefits, and cultural opportunities for library workers and the public at large through its general operations and annual long-term programs, such as Saskatchewan Library Week, the Summer Reading Program, the Forum newsletter, and its web site: www.lib.sk.ca/sla/.
Established in 1976, Saskatchewan Library Week (SLW) is SLA's major advocacy campaign, occurring annually during the third week of October. The goal of the program is to raise awareness of libraries and their services. Various contests and promotional activities are held during the week in many libraries across the province. SLA provides SLW materials for all libraries in the province, including public, school, post-secondary, and special libraries. Since 1977, the annual Summer Reading Program (SRP) has motivated children and their families to visit their library and read during the summer. Children's performers are an important part of the festivities, touring the various library systems of the province during July and August. SLA convenes the Summer Reading Committee with library participants from around the province, and provides financial support and printed materials to all interested libraries. SLA provides SRP materials for all public libraries in the province.
The SLA administers and raises funds for the Mary Donaldson Trust Fund, established in 1967 to finance an annual public lecture on a topic of interest on, or closely related to, the library field. In 1977, the Trust established an annual Mary Donaldson Award of Merit to recognize library support workers and the essential services that they perform in Saskatchewan libraries. The award is presented annually to a full-time or part-time Saskatchewan student who is attending the library technical program at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST). The award and the lecture honour Mary Donaldson, the first Provincial Librarian in Saskatchewan. SLA also presents the SLA Frances Morrison Award to individuals for outstanding service to libraries, and administers the Saskatchewan Libraries Education Bursary in partnership with Saskatchewan Learning and the Saskatchewan Provincial Library.
SLA's continuing education offerings extend beyond those made available at the annual conference/spring seminar. Educational events are held throughout the year at various locations around the province to assist in furthering the education and information resources of its members, as well as any interested parties in the library community. SLA continues to provide leadership and coordination to programs that promote libraries. It fosters appreciation and development of Saskatchewan literary arts, forges partnerships between cultural agencies and libraries, and promotes expertise in the library field.