The Grande Prairie Public Library (GPPL) returned to city council looking for a 10 per cent ($172,329) increase to its 2024 budget at the Oct. 16 regular council meeting. 

The library previously presented to council at a Committee of the Whole meeting in June, where a motion was made for the library to return with what operations would look like with different funding options. 

“What we ended up getting (funding) is what we’re going to work with, so we’ll do the best that we can with whatever we receive from the city,” said Debbie Normington, GPPL board chair.

“Everything has increased in price because of inflation,” she said, noting the staffing costs, cost of books, and licensing and subscriptions for offerings such as e-books and e-audiobooks.

“We either have an increase (in funding) that helps us with that, or we’re going to end up having to reduce services.”

Council decided to defer the request to budget deliberations.

Coun. Dylan Bressey noted that the information provided by the GPPL will be beneficial when council begins 2024 budget deliberations later this month.
City funding for library operations increased by one per cent in 2023: From $1,650,000 to $1,673,100.

The city also provides gift-in-kind support in subsidies for rent and operating costs; in 2022 the value was about $963,150. 

The library request of a 10 per cent increase in 2024 would have the city contributing $1,846,072 and an additional $56,480 (another three per cent) for a total operating budget of $1,902,552 in 2025. 

A 10 per cent increase in its operational funding would allow the library to hire more staff and fully meet the needs of the community, including increasing hours of operation, according to a report made by GPPL.

An option of a three per cent increase ($50,193) to its operational funding was also provided that would see the library “strive to maintain its current operations.” It would lead to a cut in funding for outreach programming along with the summer student positions and would likely end with the library coming to city council in 2025 with another significant budget increase request, according to the library report.

Without any increase in operational funding, additional impacts would see reduced hours of service, an inability to provide e-books and e-audiobooks due to increased subscriptions and licensing costs, insufficient cybersecurity measures, and an inability to replace public computers as they break down. 

Staff at the library has decreased by about 10 full-time employees in the last 10 years, which has left the organization short-handed for things like fundraising while maintaining the same amount of services. 

Normington said as positions have become vacant in previous years, they have been left unfilled. Many of these jobs are front-line staff such as customer service agents and shelvers. 

Coun. Wendy Bosch asked if the library has explored the option of hiring a grant writer.

“I want you to get a lot of money,” she said, noting that after hiring a grant writer, some of the applications could be reused with updated information in the future. 

Normington said the suggestion is something the library will be looking into.

Bosch also suggested that the library explored self-checkout stations.

Coun. Chris Thiessen suggested the library consider doing a major fundraising event similar to other non-profit organizations in city, like the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie and Sunrise House. 

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 02, 2023 at 10:15

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta

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