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Two Years On: The Saskatchewan Libraries 2017 Budget Crisis

By Alan Kilpatrick

In March 2017, the Government of Saskatchewan announced that funding to Saskatchewan’s public library system was being reduced.  Shortly after the announcement, widespread public protest emerged throughout the province.  Approximately one month later, the Government reversed the funding cut and committed to a public consultation and engagement process regarding libraries.

The consultation and engagement process took place over two phases:

  1. Report of Saskatchewan Public Libraries Engagement / Government of Saskatchewan (December 2018)
    Throughout fall 2018, MLA Terry Dennis led a panel that met with representatives from each public library system in the province.  The panel asked several questions, learned about the current state of public libraries, and discussed opportunities for the future of libraries.  The panel identified eight themes common to all Saskatchewan library systems.  Each theme is described in this brief report released by Mr. Dennis in December 2018:
    • Funding Structure and Predictability
    • Provincial Public Library Strategic Plan
    • One Card, One Province
    • Communication with the Provincial Library
    • Governance Training
    • Indigenization
    • Value of Public Libraries
    • Legislation
  1. Report of Saskatchewan Public Libraries Engagement Survey / Government of Saskatchewan (March 2019)
    In January 2019, the Government followed up by launching an online survey.  Saskatchewan residents were invited to read Mr. Dennis’s report and provide feedback.  Specifically, the Government wanted to gather public feedback to determine whether the eight themes accurately reflected public opinion.  The survey was open for fifteen days and received more than 5800 responses.  The responses indicate that Saskatchewan residents largely agree that the eight themes represent key concerns for public libraries.

In the coming months, the Government has indicated that it will be using the eight themes and public survey responses to develop a public library sector plan.  No additional information has been provided about the sector plan at the time.

You can learn more at:

Province Seeking Public Input On Report On Saskatchewan Libraries Engagement / Government of Saskatchewan (January 2019)
Report of Saskatchewan Public Libraries Engagement Survey / Government of Saskatchewan (March 2019)
The Saskatchewan Spring of 2017: 34 Days that Shook the Province and Led to the Provincial Government Reinstating Funding to Public Libraries / The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Science (2017)

Law Librarian On Site

By Alan Kilpatrick

Need help with your legal research? Law Society of Saskatchewan librarian, Alan Kilpatrick, will be at RPL’s Central Branch as a “Law Librarian On Site” to help guide you through the many legal resources available. Please contact the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library for more information.

Thursday, March 21: 1:00-4:00 pm
Thursday, April 4: 1:00-4:00 pm
Thursday, April 18: 1:00-4:00 pm
Thursday, May 16: 1:00-4:00 pm


Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide Added to CanLII

By Alan Kilpatrick

The Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide (formerly the Best Guide to Legal Research) is a free online legal research guide that has been available on the internet for the past twenty years.

The guide was first created and launched in 1998 as a website by Catherine Best, an experienced research lawyer.  Catherine donated the guide to CanLII in 2015 when she retired.  CanLII took over editorship and rebranded the website as The Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide.

Earlier this month, CanLII announced that the guide has been fully  revised, converted from a website to a full-fledged ebook, and added to CanLII’s growing commentary section.  The ebook is now maintained by a volunteer editorial board of five prominent Canadian legal researchers:  Melanie Bueckert, André Clair, Maryvon Côté, Yasmin Khan, and Mandy Ostick.

The ebook can be searched with keywords and Boolean operators.  Sections of the text can be copied, pasted, and downloaded to your computer.  It now features 13 chapters covering a variety of legal research topics:

  1. The Importance of Legal Research
  2. Step-By-Step Legal Research Process
  3. Use Commentary to Define and Understand the Issues
  4. Guidelines for Online Research
  5. Researching Canadian Federal and Provincial Legislation
  6. Searching Canadian Case Law
  7. Restate the Issues and Refine Your Strategy
  8. Review and Assess the Case Law
  9. Stare Decisis and Techniques of Legal Reasoning and Legal Argument
  10. If You Get Stuck
  11. When to Stop
  12. Preparing a Legal Memorandum
  13. Legal Citation

I encourage you to check the guide out.  You can learn more from CanLII’s official announcement.


Kilpatrick, Alan. (2016, September 16). The Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research – Tip of the Week.
Retrieved from

Sutherland, Sarah. (2018, October 26). The Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide on CanLII.
Retrieved from

Tredwell, Susannah. (2018, October 31). CanLII Adds the Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide
Research & Writing. Retrieved from

NewLi: Legal Information for Saskatchewan’s Newcomers

By Alan Kilpatrick

The rate of newcomers and immigrants settling in Saskatchewan has skyrocketed in recent years.  The past decade saw more than 100,000 immigrants arrive in the province.  Over ten percent of Saskatchewan’s population, according to the 2016 census, are immigrants.

Newcomers face a variety of unique challenges accessing legal information, understanding their rights, and making sense of Canadian law.  According to this previous blog post on Legal Sourcery, Saskatchewan Chief Justice Richards identified these challenges and encouraged Saskatchewan’s Public Legal Education Association (PLEA) to create a legal information resource specifically for newcomers:

“Saskatchewan, like many other parts of the country, is enjoying a significant influx of new immigrants. Many of them come from countries or places where the law, police, lawyers, government and the courts function much differently than they do in Canada. We need to ensure that all of our citizens understand the basic roles of the legal profession, the police and the courts. As well, they need to understand that these institutions are beyond the reach of corruption and bribery and that they can be used with confidence to vindicate rights, and ensure fairness.”

PLEA, as you may know, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing Saskatchewan citizens with high-quality plain language legal information, education, and publications on common legal topics.  PLEA launched its NewLi website in late 2016 as a “Saskatchewan newcomer’s guide to the law.”  It features accessible information about the law, government, and justice at

The Law Society Library team is excited to see more plain language legal information being made available in Saskatchewan as a result of PLEA’s outstanding efforts.  Most Saskatchewanians have a difficult time understanding formal legal language and legalese.  Access to understandable legal information is an access to justice issue.  For example, the British Columbia Provincial Court explains that “by using plain language we … contribute to improved understanding of court processes, legal issues, and decisions. We shorten court lists. And we give people effective, real access to justice.”

We encourage you to check out NewLi and call on Saskatchewan’s legal profession to step up, write plainly, and produce more plain language legal content.


British Columbia Provincial Court. (2017, July 18). Plain language – essential for real access to justice. Retrieved from

Gagne, J. (2018, October 21).  Access to justice week highlight – A2J for Newcomers. Retrieved from

Latimer, K. (2017, October 25). Share of new immigrants in Sask. climbs upward: StatsCan.
Retrieved from

Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan. (n.d.) NewLi: about. Retrieved from

Shepherd, A. (2018, September 18). Saskatchewan marks 20 years of immigrant nominee program. Retrieved from

Public Access to Legal Information

By Alan Kilpatrick

The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library is open to the public. We are a strong supporter of access to justice and improved access to legal information in Saskatchewan.  We encourage you to visit our library and take advantage of our print resources and expertise.

Members of the public are welcome to use our print resources during regular business hours.  However, we are not a public library and cannot lend materials out to the public.  You can browse our Library Catalogue online here.

We carry thousands of current legal textbooks, loose leafs, encyclopedias and dictionaries, as well as collections of print statutes and regulations, forms and precedents, and law reporters.  Our collection is a great source of legal information as it comprehensively covers every area of Canadian law. It is a valuable starting point for someone looking to obtain information about the law.

Our staff is ready to provide the public with basic legal information assistance in person, over the phone, and via email. We can teach you about conducting basic legal research, suggest resources for further learning, and, when necessary, make referrals to the appropriate organizations that provide legal advice.

Our self-service photocopiers in the Regina and Saskatoon Libraries are available to the public:

• Copies are $0.25 per page plus GST
• All copies are bound by restrictions under the Copyright Act

 What we can do for the public:

• Locate statutes, regulations or cases in print or online, as well as other materials in our collection

• Help you learn to use the most useful online resources

• Suggest further resources for further research

• Make referrals to other legal service organizations

What we can’t do for the public:

 • Provide legal advice or offer opinions on legal matters

• Select statutes, regulations or cases for a specific situation, or interpret the meaning of them

• Describe how to file a document or which document to file

• Comment on how to proceed with court actions


Our Contact Information

Please do not hesitate to contact or visit us for assistance:

Regina Library: 306-569-8030
Toll free: 1-877-989-4999
2425 Victoria Avenue

Saskatoon Library: 306-933-5141
Toll-free: 1-888-989-7499
520 Spadina Crescent East


Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 am – 12:00 noon; 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Evenings and weekends – closed
Holidays – closed

Some of the text was adapted from the 2016 Public Services Flyer developed by former Law Society staff member Kelly Laycock.

Everything You Need to Know About the Law Society Library: Value, Innovation, and Service

By Alan Kilpatrick

This talk was presented at the University of Regina Academic and Special Library Celebration Symposium on December 6th, 2018.  Please find the PowerPoint slides here.   

Good morning.  I’m excited to be here to speak about law libraries, because working in a law library is an experience I’ve found to be deeply rewarding.  I’d like to take this opportunity to provide some background on the Law Society Library, to talk about what I do as a law librarian, and to convey the vibrancy, variety, and complexities of modern law libraries.

The Law Society of Saskatchewan regulates Saskatchewan’s legal profession.  To govern lawyers, the Law Society enforces standards for conduct and competence.  The goal in regulating competence is to protect the public.  While the Law Society isn’t a government organization, it’s authorized by legislation to carry out this task.  Every province has a Law Society which also supports a law library system.

Organizationally, the library is part of the Law Society’s Legal Resources department.  The library supports the legal information needs of all 1800 lawyers in the province, as well as the public, by providing a practitioner-focused legal collection covering every area of Canadian law, legal information services, and research assistance.  We’ve also stepped into the role of publisher and database developer.  Saskatchewan is too small to attract much attention from Canada’s legal publishers, so we’ve created a variety of Saskatchewan-focused legal publications and databases.

We provide two staffed libraries in the Regina and Saskatoon Queen’s Bench Courthouses as well as several unstaffed libraries in rural courthouses.  I play a leading role in day to day operations in Regina, our main branch.  We have a library technician and two support staff in Regina.  Saskatoon, our secondary branch, has a reference librarian and library technician.

Many law libraries, including ours, have a unique funding model.  Lawyers are required to be members of the Law Society and a portion of their annual fees funds the Library.  We also receive an annual grant from the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan, a charity that distributes interest generated by lawyer trust accounts.

Like most practitioner-focused law libraries, our mandate was historically centred on maintaining lawyer competence by ensuring lawyers had access to the resources they needed to practice.  Technology has enabled law libraries to push the limits of how this is accomplished.  Thanks to the leadership of past library staff, including my fellow panelist Susan Baer, the Library embarked on a desktop access model for online resources that we continue to this day.  Our goal is to facilitate lawyers’ access to online legal resources no matter their location in the province.  This is key as our lawyers are geographically more spread out compared to other provinces.  This approach has led to some challenges.  Primary law (case law and legislation) is generally available online for free.  eBooks and online sources containing legal analysis are not.  Canada’s legal publishers can be resistant to licencing online resources to practitioner law libraries in ways that makes sense for law libraries.

Our mandate has also grown in recent years due to the growing number of individuals representing themselves in court due to Canada’s access-to-justice crisis.  This has enabled us to diversify beyond our historical role and place greater emphasis on serving the public.  Helping the public has become a larger and larger priority for law libraries looking to demonstrate continued relevancy in an environment of budget reduction.

As a librarian in a small special library, I wear multiple hats: I sit on the reference desk, conduct research, help the public, lead instruction sessions, write blog posts, maintain the collection, evaluate new products, help negotiate licences, and so on.  Every day is different.  Like many law librarians, my day is shaped by the reference and research requests I receive.  Our Saskatoon reference librarian, Ken Fox, and I provide a full range of reference services to lawyers in the province.

Lawyers information needs are practical, time sensitive, and can involve any area of the law.  They are connected to a legal action or are part of a lawyer’s efforts to stay up-to-date with the law.  Needs range in complexity from simpler requests to in-depth research on a point of law.  The more straightforward requests I answer could involve locating a case, statute, or literature on an area of the law.  I might be asked to determine sentencing ranges for a criminal offence, identify how courts have interpreted a case or statute, or trace legislative changes.

Ken and I provide in-depth legal research to lawyers as well.  In this situation, a lawyer wants me to locate primary law and legal analysis that supports the argument they plan to make or the amount of damages they want to seek.  I view law librarians as a part of a team effort crucial to a successful legal outcome.  Research requests often take hours to complete.  They’re deeply interesting as I continually learn new things about the law.

Lawyers also contact me to request instruction sessions.  Like academic librarians who teach students about information literacy, law librarians teach legal research using many of the same concepts and principles present in the information literacy class.  For example, I’m currently working with the Law Society’s Professional Development department to develop interactive instruction sessions to lawyers anywhere in the province using distance technology.

Our library is open to the public and I’m available to assist public patrons.  Not all law libraries in Canada are open to the public.  However, we encourage the public to visit and take advantage of our resources and services.  Please refer your students to the Law Society Library if they’re researching the law or need legal information.  We’re happy to help.

We’ve seen a growing number of the public contacting us for assistance in recent years.  This includes inmates from the correctional centres.  Like lawyers, members of the public have a variety of legal information needs.  The most common queries I receive concern family, estates, and criminal law.  How we assist public patrons differs from the assistance we provide to lawyer patrons.

I can provide general information about the law.  However, I’m not a lawyer.  I can’t provide legal advice, interpret the law, or comment on how to proceed with a legal action.  There’s a fine line between legal information and legal advice I’m cognizant of during reference transactions with the public.

I strive to connect our public patrons with plain language legal information.  A great deal of legal information, including many resources in our print and online collection, is written for lawyers.  Legalese is often difficult to comprehend.  Fortunately, there are organizations, such as Saskatchewan’s Public Legal Education Association, dedicated to creating legal content in plain language.  A leading 2013 report, the Access to Civil and Family Justice report, identified the importance of legal information.  It recognized that while more legal information is available online than ever before, its less clear what legal information is credible.  Generally, many people are unaware of how to access reliable legal information relevant to their jurisdiction.  This concept, of course, is central to information literacy instruction in academic libraries.  It’s also one of the reasons the Law Society Library helped create the Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Project, a partnership among justice stakeholders and public libraries to advance access to legal information.

Law librarians have a natural role to play in helping the public locate legal information.  In fact, I’ll be participating in an exciting pilot project in the new year at the Regina Public Library.  Twice a month, I’ll be at the Central Branch as a law librarian on-site available to help connect the public with legal information.

Thank you.  That’s it for my portion of the panel.  I’ve only scratched the surface of law libraries.  My contact information will be on the final slide.  Please feel free to contact me by emailTwitter, or through my blog if you have any questions.

Free Legal Resources Fair at the Saskatoon Public Library

By Alan Kilpatrick 

The Saskatoon Public Library’s Frances Morrison branch hosted a free Legal Resources Fair during Saskatchewan’s Third Access to Justice Week.  The fair featured a tradeshow, legal assistance clinics, and presentations on legal topics.

The fair’s bustling trade show included representatives from non-profit, government, and community organizations.  It gave members of the public a chance to connect with Saskatoon’s legal service providers.

Volunteer lawyers and law students from the Ministry of Justice, Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan, and Pro Bono Students Canada hosted a free walk-in family law information clinic.  Lawyers from CJC & Co. LLP volunteered to host a free walk-in wills and estates information clinic

Law Society Librarian’s Ken Fox and Alan Kilpatrick were proud to attend the trade show and to connect with members of the public who had questions about legal information.

Hosting a fair like this aligns naturally with the mission of public libraries.  CREATE Justice explains further on its website:

Saskatoon Public Library’s mission includes providing free and open access to resources as well as providing community spaces where people and ideas meet. Through the Legal Resource Fair, we are able to help meet the legal needs of Saskatoon citizens with the tradeshow of service providers, a walk-in family law information clinic, and a walk-in wills & estates information clinic.

The Law Society Library is looking forward to participating in the Regina Public Library’s annual Legal Resources Fair in Winter 2019.


Create Justice. (2018, October). Saskatchewan access to justice week. Retrieved from

Legal Sourcery. (2018, October 24). Free Legal Resources Fair – Saskatoon. Retrieved from

Primer on Saskatchewan’s Legalization of Cannabis

By Alan Kilpatrick

Do you need to get up speed on legal cannabis?  The Law Society Library’s team of information professionals have put together this brief primer for you.

You can find a variety of posts about Saskatchewan’s legalization of cannabis on Legal Sourcery, the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library blog:

• Towards Cannabis Legalization in Canada
• Cannabis Legislation in Saskatchewan – Effective When?
More Cannabis Legislation – Effective October 17

Law Society members can purchase this recorded CPD seminar that explores cannabis from insurance, criminal, labour, and law enforcement perspectives:

• Seminar: After the Ash Settles – The Legalisation of Recreational Marijuana (CPD-187)

Saskatchewan’s Public Legal Education Association (PLEA) has also produced this excellent document.  It provides a practical and straightforward overview of the province’s new cannabis regulatory scheme:

• Cannabis Regulation

PLEA, as you know, is a non-profit organization that creates plain language legal information for the public.  Those who want to learn more can also consult this helpful page created by the Government of Saskatchewan:

• Cannabis Use in Saskatchewan

Finally, researchers will be grateful to learn that Saskatchewan’s Legislative Library has created an in-depth bibliography of articles, scholarly sources, and resources that explore legal cannabis use:

• Cannabis: A Select Bibliography

Saskatchewan Library Week – Libraries Transform

By Alan Kilpatrick

Saskatchewan Library Week (SLW), an annual province-wide event, is being celebrated this year from October 14-20, 2018.  SLW celebrates Saskatchewan’s diverse and varied library sector and promotes the many services that libraries provide.  The Saskatchewan Library Association, an organization dedicated to library development, has hosted SLW since 1976.

Saskatchewan is home to over 1200 libraries.  This includes public, school, academic, health, law, and government libraries.  They provide a multitude of dynamic and competitive services to Saskatchewan’s citizens, students, and professionals.  SLW is an opportunity for Saskatchewan’s libraries to stand up and push back against ongoing threats to the library sector.

As a staunch member of Saskatchewan’s library community, the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library proudly celebrates SLW.  Learn more about the innovative service, expertise, and potential the Law Society Library provides at the following links:

• At the Leading Edge of Innovative Service: The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library
Law Society Library Technology Timeline
• Knowledge is Power: Jordan Furlong on Law Librarians and the Future Legal Market
• The Brass Tacks of Librarianship



Creating CanLII Alerts

By Alan Kilpatrick

Did you know that you can receive instant notifications every time a new case is added to CanLII simply by subscribing to an RSS feed?  Would you like to monitor all new decisions from a particular level of court or administrative tribunal in Saskatchewan?  An RSS feed can do that for you.

RSS feeds deliver instant updates that inform you whenever a website is updated.  In CanLII’s case, they will alert you whenever a new decision is posted.

Our colleagues at the Law Society of Manitoba Library have put together an excellent guide that describes how to Create an Alert with CanLII.

We encourage you to check their guide out.

Manitoba Law Library (2018). Create an alert with CanLII.  Retrieved from