2019 Budget Update

Dear Library patron:
The Strathmore Library Board wishes to recognize the exceptional work done by the staff and volunteers of your local library. Over the past few years, we have increased hours of operation, added programming that benefits people of all ages, and completed a major renovation that brought our library closer to what a community the size of Strathmore needs. All of these changes would have failed if not for that dedicated group of staff and volunteers.

The Strathmore Library provides a number of essential services to the community, which includes residents of the Town of Strathmore and Wheatland County. Patrons receive seamless access to materials from over 170 libraries across the  province. We offer rooms and technology for rent at affordable rates. We proctor exams, teach valuable life skills, and deliver materials to those who can’t leave their homes. We teach computer skills to seniors and social skills to toddlers. We have DVDs, ebooks, audio books, and books in large print. We are a hub for the community that connects and empowers, offering everyone access to information and the opportunity to learn and socialize. Many of the programs and services offered at the library are exclusive—they cannot be found online nor anywhere else in town. We are a strong partner in a network of public and private enterprises providing a core service delivery that makes this town a great place to live in Alberta.

In September, we presented our successes and needs to Town Council and felt the information was well received. In that presentation, we identified a need for increased funding based on changes to minimum wage, higher operating expenses associated with a larger facility, and additional programming to better serve the community. The majority of public library funding comes from the municipality and we were struggling to meet the needs of the community, receiving funding increases of just $1 per capita over the past few years. 

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In 2016 (the latest data available), average library funding from Alberta municipalities with populations similar to Strathmore was $28.54 per capita. Of those 23 communities, the municipal funding to the Strathmore Library ranked sixth lowest (almost $10 per capita below the average) while the Library ranked third highest in self generated income. After several years in a row of a $1 per capita increase from the municipality, more recent statistics are expected to show similar results. To maintain our level of service and fulfill our commitment to provide a 21 st century library, we were seeking an injection of at least $3 per capita.

Prior to our board meeting in January, we learned that we would again be receiving a funding increase of just $1 per capita in 2019. Therefore, it is with difficulty that we decided to cut the library’s operating hours to the following, effective February 1, 2019:
  • Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You will notice a decrease in programs—particularly school holiday programs for children and our Friday Fun Films. We will be increasing exam invigilation fees and will investigate other options to mitigate the shortfall in funding. These fee increases and cuts to services go against the very reason that libraries exist: to build community, promote literacy, innovate, and provide universal access. While the staff and volunteers continue to work wonders with what they’re given, we are trending in the wrong direction. An underfunded library is eventually unsustainable. If great staff go elsewhere and patrons don’t receive valuable and innovative programming, it would take years to recover and other town services would be left to pick up the slack.

Our needs are not a lot. The original budget passed in November by the Library Board, which included an increase to programming and innovative ideas, would have required additional funding of only $28,000 from the municipality this year less than one tenth of one percent of the Town’s operating budget of just over $37 million. It was suggested that our board seek additional revenues through fundraising and grants, which is a reasonable and prudent request. The majority of our expenses are operating costs, while grants are normally only awarded for capital projects. This funding, if received, cannot be reallocated for operating expenses. The library relies on extensive volunteer efforts to take workload off staff. Our board trustees are also volunteers, giving dozens of hours of their time each year to plan and execute fundraising efforts for the Library.

We hope that you will join us in advocating for the library by contacting your Town Councillors and Chief Administrative Officer. Councillors can be emailed at councillors@strathmore.ca and James Thackray, Chief Administrative Officer, can be reached at jthackray@strathmore.ca . All town officials can also be reached at 4039343133. Our board trustees are doing what we can, but only with the help of you, your neighbours, your friends, and your family can we get the library on the right track.

Sincerely Yours,
The Town of Strathmore Library Board
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