The Alberta government is providing $50 million this year to improve access and services at libraries.
The funding includes increased operating grants to help libraries keep pace with the province’s growing population and to ensure that all Albertans have a welcoming space to learn, play, share and research.
“Our government sees strong support for libraries as another way we are making Albertans’ lives better,” said Shaye Anderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “Libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed – especially our children and those developing skills and knowledge for the job market. As a champion for rural communities, I am particularly proud of the increased support for regional systems that will benefit Albertans in smaller communities.”
The money, from Budget 2017, also strengthens support for rural library services by increasing funding for regional library systems boards and maintaining funding for rural Internet connectivity.
In 2016, the Alberta government started a new chapter to improve library access for Indigenous families by providing funding to cover non-resident fees. That funding continues this year; with the province dedicating $700,000 to ensure Indigenous communities have the same resources and opportunities as other Albertans.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that Indigenous people in Alberta have the same access to library services as any other Albertan,” Richard Feehan, Minister, Indigenous Relations added. “This funding will ensure that non-resident fees are no longer a barrier for those Indigenous people living on reserve who want to access their local municipal library.”
Budget 2017 also includes $12.7 million in one-time capital spending to help maintain and renovate the headquarters of six regional library systems and the Edmonton Public Library main facility. The funding recognizes the important role regional library systems play in providing a high standard of public library service to Albertans and their families.
“This funding is exceptionally good news,” said Ron Sheppard, director, Parkland Regional Library. “Parkland Regional Library’s headquarters has been in need of significant infrastructure upgrades for a number of years, and our ability to fund such a large-scale capital undertaking with our partner municipalities has been a challenge. We are very grateful the Alberta government recognizes the important role regional systems play in supporting library services for rural Albertans.”
The Chinook Arch Regional Library’s board chair, Howard Paulsen commented that he was very pleased that the government recognized that the libraries are a vital part of communities.
”Libraries are used more and more in dynamic new ways by families and individuals, including newcomers,” said Paulsen. “Regional library systems make valuable contributions to those library services, and this capital funding will help modernize our building so we can continue to effectively support our libraries.”
– The total operating budget for public libraries is $37 million. Of that, $30 million goes out in operating grants, while the remainder pays for SuperNet service and access to a growing number of e-books and resources though the provincial library network – including those for the print-disabled.
– In 2016, the Alberta government provided $670,000 to six regional library systems and large urban libraries to cover non-resident fees for individuals living in Indigenous communities. Funding this year for Indigenous patrons from First Nations reserves or Métis settlements is $700,000.
– The $2 million in one-time capital funding to help renovate the Stanley Milner Library in Edmonton is Alberta’s contribution that is contingent on matching federal funding.
– A total of $10.7 million in one-time capital funding will support required maintenance on:
Chinook Arch Regional Library headquarters in Lethbridge
Marigold Library System headquarters in Strathmore
Parkland Regional Library System headquarters in Lacombe
Peace Library System headquarters in Grande Prairie
Shortgrass Library System headquarters in Medicine Hat
Yellowhead Regional Library headquarters in Spruce Grove
Source: Government of Alberta