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A community coalition launched a petition this week to force Regina City Council to hold a plebiscite on a resolution calling for more money for library services. Petition organizers are confident theyll collect the required 19,000 signatures within 90 days to get a binding vote on the issue.

We have already collected 1,604 signatures on 149 petition pages and there are another 1,400 pages in circulation, explains Merrilee Rasmussen, a spokesperson for the Friends of the Regina Public Library.

In late November, the library board announced plans to close three branch libraries, cease staffing the Prairie History Room and eliminate the gallery in the main library effective March 1. Nearly 30 library workers, members of CUPE 1594, received lay-off notices.

This fight isnt simply about saving a neighbourhood library, or a gallery, or our prairie history room. It is a fight to assert our right to decide what services are important to us as citizens of this city, says Donna Wilde, CUPE 1594 president.

The proposed library closures generated a storm of protest, including a series of public demonstrations and rallies.

Within a week, the mayor a library board member who supported the cuts publicly admitted he had made a mistake. He called on the library board to reverse the closures, rescind the lay-off notices and organize a meaningful public consultation process.

But the library board refused to back down, agreeing only to delay the closures until May 1. The board said it wanted to give the newly created library task force more time to hold public consultations.

But CUPE, the Friends of the Regina Public Library and many other community organizations are boycotting the library task force because the consultations are about the future of library services after the cuts have taken place.

Instead, the coalition is organizing a Citizens Task Force which will serve as the real public consultation process.

Theyre also going flat-out collecting signatures on the petition to Save the Regina Public Library.