Library Funding Freeze An Attack On Community, Say Greens

EDMONTON – A recent announcement by the provincial government that 50% of funding allocated to public libraries in Alberta has been frozen pending review has prompted the Green Party of Alberta to register its concern.

Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes, Leader of the Green Party of Alberta, says “Public libraries are essential to the well-being of our communities. They are hubs that bring people together daily, illuminating our collective and individual identities and cultures, providing information and education at an affordable cost. This move by the UCP government puts vital programs and resources at risk. The Green Party of Alberta insists that the Alberta Government reinstate its funding to this much-needed, depended-upon and well-used community resource.”

Figures made public by the Alberta government from 2016 indicate that there were 1,395,478 library cardholders in Alberta, representing 35% of the population. Albertans borrowed over 38 million items from public libraries. Albertans visited their libraries in person over 21 million times. Over 1.4 million people took part in one of the over 89,000 programs offered by Alberta’s libraries.

“These figures exemplify that public libraries are the glue that binds communities together,” says Chagnon-Greyeyes. “Freezing funding for public libraries is the modern equivalent of book-burning. It is an attack on community, reducing support and denying people affordable access to the world around them. We want this freeze lifted now so that libraries can continue their excellent service to Albertans.”

The Green Party of Alberta is especially concerned that the funding freeze will disproportionately impact rural public libraries and the people that they serve. The Calgary Public Library, for instance, sees just 10% of its funding derived from the provincial treasury, whereas rural libraries are dependent on reliable funding from the Alberta government.

“These cuts and hold-backs reduce access to information and services required and demanded by community. The Green Party of Alberta takes this opportunity to reiterate our commitment to supporting our communities, including ensuring that all Albertans have access to our public libraries and their services.”