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Palliser Regional Library’s Jan Smith to retire as director after 21 years

Jan Smith discussed her retirement during Palliser Regional Library's fall meeting on Nov. 4.
Jan Smith has been the director of Palliser Regional Library since 2001. She will retire on Dec. 31. Photo by Jason G. Antonio

Emotion filled Jan Smith’s voice as the director of Palliser Regional Library (PRL) discussed her upcoming retirement from a position she has held for 21 years.

“I have tried my best to have a balanced approach with running Palliser — rural versus city — and to make sure that all were served to the best of Palliser’s ability,” Smith said on Nov. 4 during the organization’s in-person/online fall meeting.

“I have tried to be as transparent in everything that I do — from budget to requesting your support for all our endeavours, whether it be in pursuit of grants (totalling $936,000) or improved funding. I hope that I have succeeded.”

There will likely be times when Smith’s past bad decisions affect the organization, but she joked that incoming director Arwen Rudolph — she starts Jan. 1, 2023 — could blame her for those issues. Yet, she pointed out she did her best every time she could.

Smith has worked with Palliser since Oct. 12, 1999, while she has been director since Jan. 1, 2001. She singled out some of the board chairs with whom she’s worked, including Barrie Gunter of Sun Valley, Arnold Cornea of Redburn, James Taylor of Moose Jaw, Colleen Christopherson-Cote of Coronach, Terry Gabel of Moose Jaw, Janice Lamb of Moose Jaw and Jim Achtymichuk of Coronach.

“I have enjoyed working with all of you and all the Palliser staff and the staff at provincial library,” said Smith, who received an award of merit for outstanding service in April.

She thanked current MLA Greg Lawrence and former MLA Warren Michelson for attending every AGM and fall meeting they could since it was greatly appreciated.

“That was very impressive. No other region can make that claim that their MLAs actually attended the meetings,” she remarked.

Smith — who retires Dec. 31 — expected that she would miss everyone’s questions and positive spirit as they fought to bring new ideas and better programming to communities in the region. 

“I will be around for the foreseeable future, and if another 2017 happens (with provincial funding cuts), I’ll be calling you and offering my help because I’m not going to let the library go down,” she added. 

Coun. Heather Eby, attending online, thanked Smith for her work over 21 years. She noted that being the director some days is “probably a thankless job” that few people realize is being done. 

“But I think that sometimes speaks loudly to how good a job somebody is doing … ,” she added. “Hopefully, we don’t have to send out an SOS to you anytime, but thank you for the offer to the community that you’ll be there.”  

Smith’s leadership has been extraordinary, especially since few people realize how challenging it is to lead a dispersed organization like PRL while regularly advocating for the overall provincial library system, said Mary Smillie from Davidson. 

“That is unique. And I really thank you for that. And for the creative efforts that you’ve taken to make the libraries more and more relevant to people,” she added. 

Board chairman Achtymichuk joked that Smith would welcome calls — day or night — during the next two months to thank her for her efforts.

Personnel changes

Besides Smith, there have been other changes within PRL.

At PRL headquarters:

  • James Miller has now permanently filled the one-day-a-week courier role for the retired Hugh Armstrong

At Moose Jaw Public Library:

  • Kari Hennenfent left on Oct. 2 to become executive director of Inclusion Saskatchewan’s Moose Jaw branch
  • Shevaun Ruby returns in late January or early February from maternity leave
  • Christina Dolcetti has become the new community services librarian at Regina Public Library 
  • Miller is the part-time library tech 2
  • Debbie Alix, Donna Kostal and Suzanne Kristoff have retired
  • Sarah Chase and Brooke Adkins are new 
  • Kim Churko resigned over COVID-19 vaccination requirements 

Palliser Regional Library can be found at

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