Municipal Support for Public Library Service

In Alberta, the municipality is one of the foundations for public library service delivery, along with the library board and the province.  The role of the province is to support equitable access to library service and to establish and support a provincewide public library network for communications and sharing of library resources.  In order to fulfill its role, the province is reliant on a robust municipal base upon which to layer its support.  The following resources demonstrate the strong support Alberta's library boards receive from their municipalities.

Local Appropriation

Local Appropriation is the amount of monetary support a municipality allocates to its municipal library board in operating funds for delivery of public library service in the municipality (which often entails the operation of the municipal library).  It can take two forms:

  1. an amount of money appropriated from the local tax base and transferred directly to the library board
  2. an amount of money expended by the municipality on behalf of the library board for library purposes (e.g., utilities, building maintenance, audit/financial review, etc.)

Local Appropriation per Capita is simply the Local Appropriation (as defined above) divided by the current population of the municipality served by the library board (as delineated in the most recent edition of Alberta Municipal Affairs' Official Populations list). 

This figure allows for the comparison of relative support across different population sizes:  A board in a smaller centre can compare the support it receives from its municipality to boards in larger centres.

In 2015, the provincial Local Appropriation per Capita (total local appropriation given to all municipal library boards/total population served by all municipal library boards) was $38.65 (a 2.5% increase over 2014).  The following two charts show the average (i.e., the arithmetic mean) Local Appropriation per Capita by population range and by library system membership.

Average Local Appropriation Per Capita (2015) | Average Local Appropriation - by System (2015)

Each year we also recognize those municipalities that provide the greatest level of support to their local library board.  This ‘top thirty’ list contains municipalities of all sizes, demonstrating that you don't have to be big to do great things.  A corresponding list of "all stars" highlights those municipalities that provide strong, consistent support over time.

2015 Top Thirty  |  Local Appropriation "All Stars"

More detail about Local Appropriation allocated to municipal library boards is provided in the spreadsheet below.  It has built in filtering options to allow users to create their own comparison scenarios. 

2015 Local Appropriation spreadsheet

Total Municipal Operating Support

In 2015, Local Appropriation provided by municipalities to local library boards totalled $143,394,857. This accounted for 68.2% of all revenue generated for public library service.

In addition to providing monetary support to the local board, most municipalities in Alberta (307) also participate in regional library systems, which leverage the power of cooperation to greatly enhance local public library service delivery. In 2015, municipalities contributed $9,538,723 for library system service.

In 2015, municipalities provided:

  • $140,025,407 to municipal library boards directly;
  • $3,369,451 in expenditures on behalf of municipal library boards; and
  • $9,538,723 to system library boards

for a total of $152,933,580 in municipal operating support for public library service in Alberta, providing a solid foundation upon which the provincial government can layer its support.

Have questions about the information presented here?  Contact Kerry Anderson at Public Library Services Branch.

  • Date modified: 2017-05-16