CANMORE – The Canmore Library board would like to eliminate fees for access to its services for the community, but town council chose to pass on its request for an additional $25,000 in the budget next year to make it happen.
Board chair Beth Millard appeared in front of council in November to urge local elected officials to take the bold step toward making the service truly public and free to the community.
Millard presented a new 2019-24 strategic plan for the library, which used its last major strategic plan to support relocating the library from downtown to Elevation Place in 2013.
“We as a library board are pleased with how that plan directed us to a place where the library feels at home in Elevation Place and as part of a team at Elevation Place,” she said. “Now we are reaching out into the community from that home.
“Our new strategic plan points in a new direction and invites new opportunities for us to focus on accessibility, inclusion and collaboration.”
Millard said the goal is to make the library a vibrant hub for the community and one way to help make that happen is to eliminate fees. In Alberta, the Libraries Act does not allow a library to charge for access to its collection, however a fee can be charged for a library card, fines and loans.
“The Canmore Library is a dynamic welcoming and engaging environment we would like the library to be a place that is accessible to all people in our community,” she said. “One barrier we would like to remove is the need to purchase a library membership.”
Millard said the Canmore Library intends to continue to offer excellent programs to the community, and hopes to make resources available outside the library with outreach activities planned next year with the Francophone and Stoney Nakoda communities.
In addition to the desire to eliminate membership fees, she said the library hopes to increase the amount of donations it receives from the community with the roll out of a new marketing plan.
The library requested a total of $854,647 from the Town of Canmore to support its operations, as well as an additional $25,000 to go to a free membership model. The library’s total operating budget for 2019 is $1 million, with other revenue sources coming from the province, a marigold grant, fines and rentals.
Council also heard the municipality is no longer charging the library for utilities or cleaning costs to be inside Elevation Place.
General manager of municipal services Sally Caudill told council $60,000 in utility and cleaning fees are now covered by the municipality.
“That is a savings for the library,” Caudill said.