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Regional library fees to increase in 2020

Masha Scheele

Hinton council heard Aug. 20 that Yellowhead Regional Library fees are increasing next year to try and keep services consistent.

The Hinton Municipal Library has been a member of the Yellowhead Regional Library (YRL) system since 2000, receiving materials and services at par with other communities.

In the past 11 years of being a member of YRL, rates for the Hinton Municipal Library have not moved due to the large region and growing population, but YRL board chair Hank Smit explained that next year rates have to go up.

“We are raising fees next year by nine cents to $4.46 [per capita]. That means for 2020 the increase is $889.38. And the following year $1,581.12,” said Smit.

He added that the increase isn’t huge and that they hope to show value for the funds provided to YRL.

YRL provides service to a population over 300,000 Albertans in 54 municipalities and three school divisions.

Wendy Sears Ilnicki, Assistant Director of YRL stressed that YRL is not a public library and they try desperately not to repeat the services already provided in municipalities. 

What YRL does is reduce time local staff spends on tasks like cataloguing or filing information into a database.

“While we’re doing that, it’s our hope that we let your staff do the things that are grassroots that the public needs,” said Sears Ilnicki.

YRL hires staff with special training to take over less cost effective work in rural municipal libraries. YRL also enables the availability of certain services and programs in Hinton at the same prices as in major centres. 

“The regional library systems of Alberta were formed initially to equalize library service,” said Karla Palichuk, director of YRL.

Over time, YRL has taken care of work like cataloguing, filing, or organizing in order for Hinton’s staff to focus on community work like outreach programs.

YRL is governed by the Public Libraries Act and a membership agreement with local libraries outlines the types of services and programs are offered and how much YRL can charge for them.

“Yellowhead is funded by a membership fee currently set at $4.30 per capita and $13.95 per student for the school divisions,” said Palichuk.

She explained that the gap is due to a cut in education funding going into the library system, as a result the school division pay closer to what the actual costs of delivery would be. YRL charges based on the most recent population figures set out by Municipal Affairs.

“At $4.50 per capita, the Town of Hinton supplies just under 43,000 dollars towards Yellowhead,” said Palichuk.

An operating grant is also supplied by Municipal Affairs based on the 2016 population and $4.70 per capita is supplied by the province to ensure consistent service.

In 2018, e-resources offered by YRL were accessed by people in Hinton 8,630 times, while that number is 5,500 between January and July in 2019.

These resources include movies, comic books, magazines, and more.

YRL also provides supernet connections, a virtual private network to avoid hacking, paid for by the Alberta government. Last year, YRL noted 11,000 wifi sessions in the library, while this year they’ve already seen 6,500 sessions.

The Hinton Municipal Library website was partly developed by YRL and accessed by 5,000 people last year with 32,000 page views. This year they’ve seen an increase with already 6,500 people accessing the website and 20,000 page views.

YRL offers consultant work for library staff on planning and development, which has been beneficial for Hinton’s staff.

YRL has also seen many uses of the ME Libraries card, which gives access to free Alberta-wide public library borrowing as well as online interlibrary loans through TAL.

“We are a very strong, cohesive and collaborative partnership now of almost 50 years and have made a significant difference to the libraries in this area,” said Palichuk.