Northern Lights Library System marked 20 years of service to northeastern Alberta at the system’s annual conference, with ‘Continuing to Evolve’ as the conference theme.
Both the anniversary and the completion of major renovations at the system’s Elk Point headquarters were celebrated at the opening dinner Thursday night at the Elk Point Arts and Leisure Centre adjoining the headquarters.
NLLS board chair Larry Tiedemann introduced the system’s first director, Pat MccNamee, and listed those who followed her, Heather West, Kolette Taber, Linda McCallum, Carol Morgan and current director Mircea Panciuk, as well as his own predecessors, Dave McCullough, Jamished Merchant, Ron Young, Iris English, Marvin Soderberg, Don Gulayec, and Marc Oberg, all who were instrumental in the growth and progress of the system.
“Tonight we are celebrating the end of the construction,” Tiedemann said, thanking Minister of Municipal Affairs Hector Goudreau and Minister of Infrastructure Ray Danyluk for their support and the NLLS staff for their hard work and patience during the lengthy project.
“In 2001, Northern Lights moved to their new location in the former Pan Canadian building,” Panciuk added. “In 2007, we received approval for a renovation grant from the Minister of Infrastructure, Hector Goudreau. Construction began in 2009, and you will all have the opportunity to tour the results.”
During nearly a year of renovations, “the staff did not stop work or take holidays. They didn’t skip a beat, but they may have skipped slower sometimes,” Panciuk noted. Brigitte Sakaluk became the project manager, agreeing to forego holidays for a year and a half, “and executive assistant Patty Mathiot became the de facto project manager. She kept all that was said at meetings for posterity and kept everyone in line.”
Tiedemann presented gifts to Sakaluk, Mathiot, members of the building committee and those involved in the construction process.
One of those honored was Audrey Dutka, Danyluk’s executive assistant. “Audrey took on the responsibility and it tuned into a passion. She worked tirelessly,” Danyluk said as he related his thoughts on the project.
“The premier wants buildings that work for students, patients and those who work there, so we need to get the community involved. We do not want to end up with buildings that look good but don’t work.”
Danyluk introduced Goudreau, and said was instrumental in the creation of the Arts and Leisure Centre. “He knew we needed a place that would work for the community and also support the importance of libraries.”
Goudreau acknowledged that his initial impressions of the future included doubts, but now, “the importance of this building will manifest itself over the coming years. I congratulate Mircea and Larry on their vision, in a community where you would never expect to find something like this. It’s my first time back and I am certainly impressed with what I see.”
The library system “certainly has a great deal to celebrate,” Goudreau continued. “They have a legacy of two decades of exceptional service to a diverse population, the second largest library system in Alberta, with 41 member libraries, and are continuing to look to the future.”
Guest speakers for the opening dinner were Ernie Ingles, vice provost, chief librarian and interim director of the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta and Punch Jackson, retired director of Public Library Services for the province.