Ponoka library requests expanded budget

The Ponoka Jubilee Library is requesting a $35,290 contribution from Ponoka County for 2013.

The Ponoka Jubilee Library is requesting a $35,290 contribution from Ponoka County for 2013.

This request is a $6,520 increase over the requisition for 2012.

“As you can see our request for funds is up this year,” Nick Ravnsborg, the library board’s treasurer, told county council.

Ravnsborg said one the reasons for the budget increase was the loss of the former librarian at the end of August and the recent hiring of new librarian David Tremblay.

When the librarian position opened up the library received 15 responses, which surprised Ravnsborg.

“Of our applicants we interviewed 13. Almost all of them had their masters,” said Ravnsborg. Eleven of the applicants had master’s, which isn’t mandatory for a position in a town the size of Ponoka.

“Now of those, six of them had salary expectations that were disgusting,” he added. Six applicants wanted a salary of over $70,000.

“Being the good, conservative board we are, we hired one of the ones who wanted over $50,000.”

Ravnsborg feels the library got a good librarian with Tremblay, and at a good rate. However, a budget increase is still required. He also told council that the library is having to increase the salaries of casual staff to stay competitive with other libraries in the central Alberta region, and keep those people in Ponoka.

The library will also request more money from the Town of Ponoka than they normally would. “Times are changing I’m afraid,” said Ravnsborg.

When asked by County CAO Charlie Cutforth, Ravnsborg told council the library’s membership remains static. “We’ve got about 4,000 members, which is really kind of a misleading thing because most of our memberships are family memberships,” said Ravnsborg.

Because of the family memberships, where multiple people are included under one membership Ravnsborg wasn’t able to provide a definite number for council.

He said the fast growing interlibrary system is also placing pressure on the library.

The system allows library users to order books they can’t find at their own library from other libraries in the central Alberta Parkland region. “They send books to the provincial building and our people pick them up every day and bring them back, and then take books out,” said Ravnsborg.

Approximately 1,000 books are moved in and out each month. “Which may not sound like a lot, but it’s a tremendous amount of work,” Ravnsborg added.

If the library doesn’t receive enough money to keep a balanced budget, Ravnsborg said they’ll either run at a deficit or cut their hours. The library is open Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cutforth advised council approved the request and matched the numbers with Rimbey’s library, since both town and county people belong to the libraries.

“It’s a total of $13,000, and we just incorporate it into our 2013 budget,” said Cutforth.

His suggestion was approved by the council.

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