Free memberships are to be credited for the increase in memberships seen by the Cold Lake Public Library. For the first time in Cold Lake, library membership fees were eliminated starting in 2016.
Free memberships are to be credited for the increase in memberships seen by the Cold Lake Public Library.
For the first time in Cold Lake, library membership fees were eliminated starting in 2016. Since then, the library has seen an increase in memberships by 24 per cent.
In 2015, a total of 4,584 memberships were purchased, and up to the end of August this year, the board has seen 4,240. Of those, 3,598 are city residents, 461 live within the MD of Bonnyville, 83 reside on Elizabeth Métis Settlement, 60 are from Cold Lake First Nations, and 30 live out of province.
The library is currently averaging about 530 memberships a month, an increase to the 400 they were seeing last year. Per day, both the north and south locations see a combined 200 visitors.
Last year, council covered the $5,000 cost of the memberships, something they have been doing across the board in terms of local fees such as transit, and the walking track at the Energy Centre.
"We want to see more people being not only physically active in Cold Lake, but getting out and about learning, and getting access to the library and using free transit... It's all about making sure Cold Lake is a livable community and we are trying to reach out and make a few things free. I think free is a good thing once in a while," said Mayor Craig Copeland, who added this also helps families with the cost of some of these amenities.
On Tuesday, Sept. 27, library board chair Code Clements, and board director Leslie Price shared with council the benefits of the free memberships, and why council should include the cost in their budget for the upcoming year.
The membership increase translates into a boost in circulation and walk in traffic, more inter library loans, higher program numbers, and an increase to diversity in services and programs.
The library is more than just a place books, and also conducts programs such as guitar lessons, art lessons, FitBike, and updated large print resources. For 2017, the library is planning to add fundraising funded dementia programs and resource development, and a tool-lending program.
The tool-lending program is a place where residents can "borrow" tools they need, rather than purchase them. It should be open for business soon, and can benefit low-income families who may not be able to afford tools of their own, or residents who need a tool only for a day or two.
"A lot of the bigger libraries are doing it... It not only promotes a green Cold Lake, it also promotes helping those out that are in economic need," explained Price. "It's quite popular... libraries are reinventing themselves with some of these programs."
The library has a budget of about $611, 627 for 2017, and is requesting funding from the City of Cold Lake to a total of $430,694. The funds break down into $430,694 in operating costs, $56,280 in renovations, and $5,000 for the free memberships.
The library has applied for grant funding, and is waiting to hear back on whether or not they have been approved for $25,000 through the Canada 150 grant, along with others.
The board has yet to appear before the MD of Bonnyville Council. Price said, last year their request for more funding was denied, however, this year they will once again approach the MD in hopes of receiving further funding.
Council agreed to consider the library board's request come budget deliberations in late October/early November.