Province removes barriers to library access for Indigenous families

by Morinville News Staff

People living on First Nations and Metis Settlements in Alberta will no longer have to pay non-resident fees to access public library services.

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

Before Friday’s funding announcement, those living on-reserve or on-settlement had to acquire a non-resident library membership to take advantage of the programs and services offered by libraries in neighbouring communities. Locally that fee was $60 plus the cost of the library card itself.

“Libraries are so much more than their books; they are integral community spaces,” said Danielle Larivee, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “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.”

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.

Colette Poitras, Public Services Manager, Northern Lights Library System and member of the Metis Nation of Alberta was pleased with Friday’s announcement.

“Providing quality library service to people living on reserves and settlements has always been a goal of mine,” she said. “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 Metis people with the resources and services they deserve.”

Library membership enables access to not only books, but also CDs, videos, computers and high-speed internet, and regional programs, including childhood literacy activities, e-content, interlibrary loans, and other initiatives provided via the government-funded Provincial Network of Public Library Service.

The Morinville Community Library is pleased to see the funding removing barriers for residents of nearby Alexander First Nation.

“I was glad to hear of the government’s initiative to provide funding to remove the non-resident fee for First Nations and Metis settlements in Alberta, especially as we have residents of the Alexander First Nations as patrons,” Cramp told Morinville News. “The province is moving towards removing barriers to library access, and this is an important step in that direction. The non-resident fee can be quite expensive when applied to a family ($60 per person), and we have no control over that fee at the local library level. So having that fee waived is very good news indeed.”

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