WHEREAS the provincial per capita operating grant to public libraries in Alberta in 1992 through 2008 has not changed from $4.29 per capita; and
WHEREAS the cost of providing public library services to Albertans has gone up substantially in the past sixteen years; and
WHEREAS public libraries provide an important and readily available resource for Albertans of all ages, for literacy, access to information and educational needs;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the Government of Alberta recognize the increased cost of providing library services by doubling the annual per capita grant to libraries and that the population formula for the grant payment utilize the current census data for each municipality;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Government of Alberta, in subsequent years, increase the annual per capita grant to public libraries at “a minimum” as set out in Canadian Consumer Price Index.
In 1980, the Province nearly doubled the per capita library grant to $3.00 per capita. Over the next 12 years the per capita grant increased to $4.29 where it remains today. During those years the grant was actually reduced before being restored to $4.29 in 2003.
The cost of operating libraries has gone up drastically over the past 16 years and for libraries to keep their doors open, the increases have been fully funded by municipalities and library membership fees. In fact, according to Statistics Canada reading material, books and other printed matter has risen 50% since 1992. Magazines and newspapers have gone up over 67%, not to mention where the costs for staffing & utilities are as compared to 1992.
Municipalities continue to ask the Province for fair and equitable funding partnerships as those funding partnerships are essential in providing the services that Albertan’s need and rely on. Public Libraries are no different as they rely totally on the partnership between the Province, municipalities and their membership.
As a result, the County of Newell is asking for your support to request that the Province of Alberta recognize the partnership inequities over the past 12 years by doubling their per capita allocation and increasing it annually thereafter by a minimum of the increases shown in the Canadian Consumer Price Index.
Resolution 2-07S: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties vigorously lobby the provincial government to increase funding on a per capita basis for municipal libraries.
The Government of Alberta recognizes the need to strengthen access to library resources, which is why the province’s 2009 budget includes a 39 per cent increase in public library funding beginning in 2009. The funding increase supports a new vision for the public library system, which is focused on building seamless access to information and services through Alberta’s public library network.
Budget 2009 allocates $32 million to help municipalities fund public library services – a $9 million increase over last year. Of this increase, $7 million will go directly to local library boards and regional library systems to deliver basic library services and respond to community needs. The remaining $2 million increase will be invested in technology, helping further the new vision as well as promoting collaboration and innovation within the library network. Alberta’s vision for libraries builds on feedback heard through extensive MLA-led consultations with library stakeholders across the province in September and October 2008.
Budget 2011 saw increase to library funding of 2 per cent. This reflects the population increase but the per capita rate remains unchanged. While the increase in public library services funding is recognized, the AAMDC will continue to urge the Government of Alberta to increase the annual per capita grant to public libraries at “a minimum” as set out in Canadian Consumer Price Index. Given recent economic events, the AAMDC accepts in principle that reasonable efforts have been taken to meet the intent of this resolution. However, as economic outlooks improve, the AAMDC will revisit this issue.