File Photo.

Parkland Library not expecting funding cuts in upcoming provincial budget

Parkland Regional Library Director Ron Sheppard says cuts would affect rural Alberta libraries most

Parkland Regional Library is not concerned about funding cuts in the near future.

Libraries will still be receiving half the regular funding for the year by the end of August, but it is unclear if the remaining 50 per cent will come in when the budget is finalized.

Ron Sheppard, director of Parkland Regional Library, says they are just waiting it out because they have been in this situation before.

When the New Democratic Party was elected in 2015 they issued 75 per cent of the operating grant and then followed up with the remaining balance after the budget was passed in the fall.

“The new government doesn’t have any kind of budget in place and has no previous budget to sort of set a precedence for so if anything Minister [Kaycee] Madu’s attempting to provide a certain amount of funding before the budget is even provided shows a significant degree of support for public libraries,” said Sheppard.

He says his instinct is there will not be any cuts made to funding, but if there is the impact will vary to each individual library depending on how much funding they receive from their municipalities.

Sheppard explained any funding cut is hard on libraries because small libraries have 50 to 70 per cent of their budgets supported by provincial funding.

“Here at Parkland, just the regional headquarters, 45.5 per cent of our budget comes from the province,” said Sheppard, adding libraries in Edmonton or Calgary will have 10 per cent or less of their budget coming from a provincial grant.

“Public libraries, all of them, are a municipal service at their core and our libraries in Alberta that are part of the system, we put services in them, we network them together, but they’re still autonomous libraries,” Sheppard said.

Each library develops its own budget and also receives money from its municipality every year.

“You can have some places where very little money is coming from the municipality beyond the minimum required to qualify for provincial grants and so the majority if the money is actually coming from the province so naturally any cut is going to be much more significant.”

Libraries operate on shoestring budgets, according to Sheppard, and in speculative terms if substantial cuts were made many small libraries would have to question their ability to operate unless individual municipalities provided the money no longer coming in form the provincial government.

If funding cuts were to happen they would hurt public library services in rural Alberta the most, says Sheppard.

The provincial budget is due to be passed in October.

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