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Minister's Awards for Excellence in Public Library Service

This award acknowledges great ideas and best practices in libraries across Alberta.


In 2009, a committee of MLAs recommended in the Framework for the Future report on the future of Alberta's libraries that the Government of Alberta "designate public libraries that house innovative programs, services or technologies as centres of excellence", and "package and share their knowledge and expertise."

An awards program is a way to identify, acknowledge and encourage best practices, and to capture and communicate ideas that can be replicated by libraries across Alberta.

2019 - 2020 award recipients

City of Lethbridge Library Board for Big Truck Petting Zoo

The 1st ever Big Truck Petting Zoo (BTPZ) event was held at the Crossings Branch of the Lethbridge Public Library in May 2019. The event was a partnership between the Lethbridge Public Library (LPL) and the City of Lethbridge Public Operations. BTPZ gave participants a chance to touch the equipment, learn about its operation from the actual heavy equipment operators. The idea came out of the desire of Public Operations to hold an event during National Public Works Week to highlight the work done by Public Operations staff. Working together to plan and run the event were City of Lethbridge departments including Waste and Recycling, Parks, Water and Wastewater, Fleet Services, Police, Fire & EMS, Risk Management, and the Lethbridge Public Library. The event achieved multiple desired outcomes.  Public Operations departments were able to speak directly to attendees about safety around the equipment when they see it out in the wild. They were also able to educate attendees about the services they run and why they do it. This was of significant importance to Waste and Recycling who had earlier rolled out a new blue bin system to some controversy. The event also served to inform participants about careers with the city and in heavy equipment operations.

City of Spruce Grove Library Board for New Beginnings Learning Circle

The New Beginnings Listening Circle is a new library program based on traditional Indigenous talking circles, with an added focus on listening to members of the community who are willing to share their stories in a safe and welcoming environment. The program came to life because of the City of Spruce Grove Family and Community Support Services’ (FCSS) New Beginnings project to "develop a tri-regional (Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County) strategic response to the increasing number of Indigenous families and individuals seeking services from Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County.” One of the New Beginnings project’s overall goals is to "build upon current collaborative programs and services to improve current access, services delivery and social policy initiative while continuing to provide crisis intervention services," and therefore approached the Spruce Grove Public Library to partner in the next steps of their New Beginnings project.

Town of Vulcan Library Board for Reading to Build Community

Reading to Build Community is a facilitated intervention targeting seniors at risk of loneliness and isolation by using literature to build social connections within members of a group.  Rainbow Literacy and Learning and the Vulcan Library initiated the reading program reaching out to three groups of residents in the local Extendicare facility to assist seniors at risk build a sense of community in a group. The scope of the program continued to evolve as the needs of the groups were identified. It was discovered that due to hearing loss in some seniors, conversation aides were needed. As a result, the Extendicare Auxiliary purchased Pocket Talkers (conversation amplifiers) for use in the group. These Pocket Talkers can also be borrowed by medical staff and family members to aid conversation outside of the program sessions. Vision loss and cognitive decline can result in traditional written material being inaccessible to seniors, even in a group setting.  Materials that are modified to meet the varying abilities of those living with advancing physical and cognitive disabilities were purchased for use in this program by the Vulcan and District Agriculture Society.

Great ideas from the minister's awards

Here are some of the best repeatable ideas from the minister's awards:

Public Library Service on a First Nations Reserve – This was achieved by developing and implementing a model to provide public library service on the Blood Tribe First Nations reserve.

Make Career Choices: Job and Career Development – Community based program, coordinated network of career support services for youth and adults.

Readers Festival: STARFest – Festival celebrates reading and writing.

OUT LOUD – Program contains several series within it to engage children and youth.

Tales for the Tall/Wii for the Tall – Programs for the developmentally disabled, created by Airdrie Public Library.

Teens After Hours – Program in which teens come to the library after regular open hours, developed by Airdrie Public Library.

Project Connect – Initiative to deliver services to immigrants, developed by Brooks Public Library.

The Living Library – Program that designates individuals as "books" that can be "signed out" by library patrons. It was implemented by Calgary Public Library.

It's a Crime Not to Read – Literacy program by Calgary Public Library.

The Freedom Project – Initiative to celebrate Freedom To Read Week by Edmonton Public Library.

Law at Lunch – Videoconference program by Lethbridge Public Library.

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