WHEREAS regional library systems exist to ensure Albertans have equitable access to library services; AND WHEREAS public libraries are essential to our future and support lifelong learning, develop strong, healthy communities, and provide Albertans the opportunity to compete in a global economy; AND WHEREAS libraries offer access to everyone, especially people that may not be able to access material in other ways, such as buying them outright; AND WHEREAS libraries provide access to costly resource texts and materials, and to information technology via computers that many cannot afford otherwise; AND WHEREAS libraries are inadequately funded to meet operating costs, provide competitive wages, keep materials current and provide equal access for all Albertans; AND WHEREAS the per capita rate of municipal funding for regional library systems is increasing in 2005 to cover a substantial rise in the cost of books and other goods and services, and the introduction of technology-based services; AND WHEREAS public libraries provide a universal and low-cost point of access to information for Albertans of all ages, in all parts of the province, who are pursuing the knowledge needed for success in education, business and personal projects; AND WHEREAS the province of Alberta is said to be debt free;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to increase their financial support to fully fund libraries for all Albertans.
The above points provide sufficient background.
The AAMDC has two resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue. Resolution 5-03F, endorsed at the fall 2003 convention, urges the Government of Alberta to substantially increase the provincial per-capita operating grants for public libraries and regional system boards to provide adequate and stable funding that will allow present library service levels to continue and will enable future service levels to increase. Resolution 6-00F requests an increase in the per-capita funding support provided to municipal public libraries to $5.78 per capita and regional library systems to $4.59 per capita.
The provincial support for libraries in 2005/2006 is $19.9 million based on a maximum municipal operating grant of $4.29 per capita. Despite a series of resolutions dealing with library funding in recent years, provincial operational funding for libraries has not kept pace with inflation, leaving many rural libraries with operational shortfalls. The AAMDC will continue to advocate on behalf of its members for increased provincial funding for libraries.