With all the cuts coming out of the 2019 Alberta budget, libraries across the province are likely breathing a sigh of relief.
The UCP government was at the Strathcona County Library on Friday, Nov. 8 to announce that funding would remain status quo for libraries this year.
“Dedicated library professionals deliver the critical library services Albertans rely on,” explained Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu. “For 2019, our government is ensuring libraries remain strong community and learning hubs. We are doing this by maintaining the highest level of direct funding for library boards in the country. This funding will allow libraries to continue delivering important services such as job-seeking assistance, language learning and support for people with disabilities.”
Library funding would remain the same as 2018-19, with $31-million going directly to library boards and $6-million going to network support.
Mayor Rod Frank was on hand for the announcement, emphasizing the importance of libraries in the community.
“When you walk in here today you may notice a sign that has an Albert Einstein quote that says; “The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library,” and the people of Strathcona County do know where the library is and we get 500,000 visitors a year into this building, which is 1,400 people per day. Just think of it ministers, that’s bigger numbers than Disneyland,” joked Mayor Rod Frank. “We come here to learn to grow and strengthen our own lives.”
The mayor talked about seeing the library grow from its old location around 100 yards from the current one to the location at the Sherwood Park Mall to its current site, which Frank said was its true home.
“I just want to say on behalf of council and the community, we’re very appreciative of the government of Alberta’s continued investment in libraries. We think it is very wise,” Frank added.
The funding allows libraries across Alberta to continue to deliver important library services to residents, according to Madu.
Strathcona County Library’s CEO said the announcement is a welcome relief.
“It is great news to us (that we won’t be seeing any cuts to funding) and great to hear that there is the understanding that stable funding really benefits all the residents of the community,” said Sharon Siga, Strathcona County Library CEO. “We know the fiscal environment that Alberta is in we did not know what was going to happen and there could have been a different outcome but we were very pleased to hear this announcement.”
Madu noted he was happy to make the announcement in the county because it always makes him feel right at home.
“I want to thank, once again, the mayor for being here and being a strong advocate across the province, not just in Strathcona County, and I’ve had the opportunities to discuss a wide range of issues that impacts, not just our Edmonton regional area, but all of our province. I know that you recently recognized the one-year anniversary of the explosions that impacted the community,” explained Madu.
The minister said the funding from the province for libraries, when compared against similar library structures, is the highest across the country.
“This is something we are proud of and is something that will continue as long as I remain the Minister of Municipal Affairs,” Madu noted.