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Library gets funding to become more inclusive to First Nation and Métis residents

PHOTOT. Signage hangs above the Wood Buffalo Regional Library. MYMCMURRAY/Brad Karp.

The RMWB is among six regional library systems in Alberta receiving funding to open up library services to First Nations and Métis residents in the community.

The Alberta government is providing more than $670,000 to the six regional library systems and three of the large urban libraries to cover non-resident fees for individuals living in Indigenous communities.

Previously, people living on-reserve or on-settlement had to acquire a non-resident library membership in order to take advantage of the programs and services offered by libraries in neighbouring communities.

“Libraries are so much more than their books, they are integral community spaces. It is essential that all Albertans have equitable access to the programs and services these community hubs can offer. Our government is proud to provide this funding that eliminates a financial barrier and makes it easier for everyone to use and enjoy Alberta’s public libraries,” said Danielle Larivee, Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Following the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Alberta government has committed to working with Indigenous leaders and communities to implement the principles and objectives of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“All people in Alberta, no matter where they live, should have equitable access to public libraries. Removing non-resident library fees is a small but important step towards ensuring Indigenous communities have the same resources and opportunities as all Albertans,” said Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations.

Library membership enables access to:

  • books, CDs, videos and other physical materials
  • computers and high-speed internet
  • regional programs such as early childhood literacy activities
  • e-content, inter-library loans and other initiatives provided via the government-funded Provincial Network of Public Library Service

“Providing quality library service to people living on reserves and settlements has always been a goal of mine. Removing the financial and political barriers to equitable library service is a crucial step in true inclusivity and reconciliation in Alberta. This funding allows libraries to provide First Nations and Métis people with the resources and services they deserve,” said Colette Poitras, the Public Services Manager for the Northern Lights Library System and member of the Métis Nation of Alberta.

The regional library systems and urban libraries receiving funding are:

  • Peace Library System
  • Northern Lights Library System
  • Yellowhead Regional Library System
  • Parkland Regional Library System
  • Marigold Library System
  • Chinook Arch Library System
  • Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
  • Edmonton Public Library
  • Calgary Public Library

The funding is being delivered through Budget 2016, which in total provides $36.6 million in support of public library service across the province.