Regional library reports to council

Drayton Valley residents continue to love the library. At last week’s governance and priorities meeting. Karla Palichuk, the director of Yellowhead Regional Library, a regional network of libraries that includes 44 municipal libraries and 44 school libraries, said the area has a high usage of the library in comparison with other areas. In her annual report to the Town, she reviewed some of the benefits the community received as part of the network.

“It allows users to receive the same level of service as they would see in some of the major centres,” says Palichuk.

She told Council that YRL was the second regional library network in the province, and that Drayton Valley had been one of its first members. Since then, YRL has been supporting the local library with administrative and tech services, training, and the use of materials from across the region.

By law, YRL is required to submit a plan of service to the government every three years. This plan outlines how they will work with the libraries in their network to ensure they can continue to run at optimal levels.

While the community has to buy into the optional program, at $4.30 per capita in 2023, Palichuk says the return on the investment works out to be $25.31 for every dollar the Town spends. In 2023, the Town spent $31,153.48, but received services valued at $788,393.56, most of which was in cost avoidance. However, there was a financial return of more than $9,000 for the Town.

Along with funds from the partnering libraries, YRL also receives provincial funding and utilizes grants whenever possible.

“This allows libraries to focus on giving support to their communities,” she says. It also takes a large amount of administrative work off of the desk of directors and managers in the libraries.

Palichuk says this year, YRL focused on increasing cyber security.

“This is the thing that has been keeping me up at night,” she says.

She says last year the region updated all of the library websites, which increased their security and functionality. They also made changes that allowed the content on the websites to be translated to any language to make things easier for any who struggle with English.

Palichuk explained that by utilizing the inter library loan system, the Drayton Valley Library had access to all of the book materials that all of the other libraries had in the region. In total, the library saved nearly $750,000 in print and digital items.

YRL also provided training for library staff as part of the membership. Staff spent 66.5 hours in training, a value of more than $12,000.

Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Drayton Valley and District Free Press