New provincial legislation for Alberta libraries has been proposed that would reduce regulatory burdens and make it easier for administrators to run daily operations. But, depending on the size of the community, some locales might be more impacted than others.
An updated Alberta Libraries Act would see that some policies relating to governance, appointments, meetings, staffing and reporting are repealed or removed.
“I think it’ll just make processes a little bit easier and possibly free up some time used for reporting services,” says Mark Barber, a councillor for the Town of Pincher Creek.
The changes would not be implemented until 2022.
Public library boards that serve populations over 10,000 would be required to hire professional librarians with degrees. This has been a point of contention within communities that only marginally exceed this number and may not have the money or resources to hire someone with a high level of schooling.
“There are a lot of towns just over that number having a hard time affording that level of service,” says Diane DeLauw, manager for Crowsnest Community Library.
Crowsnest Pass, Pincher Creek and Cowley would not be affected by this change, as their populations are much smaller.
The initiative is part of Alberta’s Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, overseen by Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver.
Consultations on the proposed changes began in the fall of 2019 between the Public Library Services Branch and public library stakeholders. Eleven in-person engagements were held across the province in Slave Lake, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Okotoks, Wainwright, Lac La Biche, Brooks, Drumheller, Red Deer, Stony Plain and Edmonton, followed by an online survey.
The process was halted with the arrival of Covid but was reinstated last month. Four Zoom sessions were held over the course of September.
Gillian Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze