The Ponoka Kinettes present a cheque for $1

The Ponoka Kinettes present a cheque for $1

Library looks to dissolve membership fees

In an effort to erase the monetary barrier that hinders some people from enjoying all the Ponoka Jubilee Library has to offer

In an effort to erase the monetary barrier that hinders some people from enjoying all the Ponoka Jubilee Library has to offer, the library is looking at exterminating membership fees.

Last year the library garnered just over $11,900 in revenue via the fees, says library manager David Tremblay. “We’re looking to raise $12,000 to cover revenue.”

“We would then institute free membership for the calendar year of 2015,” he added.

Recently the Ponoka Kinette Club donated $1,000 toward the initiative and Tremblay is still looking to solicit a few other service groups for support. If the money can’t be raised through service groups, he says the library will explore other fundraising options.

“If we are successful, we will be one of the few libraries in Alberta to do it,” said Tremblay. Edmonton Public Library is going on its second year as a membership-fee-free library and libraries in Camrose and Drayton Valley are also testing out the idea.

Alberta, one of the wealthiest provinces in Canada, is also one of the only regions in North America where people are charged separate membership fees for libraries; most other areas include it in residents’ taxes.

“It really just comes down to the fee as being something we use to help operate the library and that in other places like Ontario or other provinces is levied like a school tax. Here it is almost like a double tax. The municipality and county already contribute to the library through their budget which comes from taxes and other revenue streams and then the individual or family in our case has to pay another tax to use the library,” said Tremblay.

Tremblay says he and the library board see the Jubilee Library as an essential community service and to some families, the $20 membership cost isn’t always the most feasible decision or top priority.

“We want to see what free membership will do for our community in 2015,” said Tremblay. Along with tangible statistics such as user increase for the library, Tremblay says seeing spinoff benefits in the community would provide insight that the initiative was a positive one and, providing the revenue could be covered, something to continue after 2015 is up.