Library trustees and the library board are key to the success of the public library. Nowhere is this more true than in Alberta, where local autonomy rules and where a library can be as good – or otherwise – as the local community makes it.

Becoming a trustee is a significant commitment, and yet many people are appointed to the library board without any knowledge of their role or responsibilities. Following is some information that may assist trustees in their ongoing education.

Library Board Basics workshops: This workshop presented by the Public Library Services Branch is great for the new or the experienced trustee. All important issues are covered, including the Libraries Act and Libraries Regulation.

Alberta Library Trustees' Association (ALTA): ALTA is the collective voice for library trustees across Alberta and promotes effective library service and leadership through training, resources, communication and advocacy. Visit their website to see the full range of training and resources provided (including the ALTA Handbook).

Board Development Program (BDP): The BDP focuses on improving the governance of non-profit organizations through curriculum-based training for groups on topics like board roles and responsibilities, policy development and effective use of committees.

The BDP offers multi-board training in the form of Open Workshops. Open Workshops are for individual board volunteers and non-profit staff from any non-profit organization as well as anyone generally interested in governance. They allow you to share proven successful ideas from other boards that have gone through similar situations. An Open Workshop is sponsored by any organization on behalf of the larger community anywhere in Alberta. Visit the Board Development Program web page to see a list of current workshops.

The BDP also provides a number of helpful Information Bulletins and Workbooks (scroll down to the bottom of the page) for boards.

The BDP also has a library board specific online course on Board Roles and Responsibilities that was produced in partnership with the Alberta Library Trustees' Association.

Library Board FAQs

Library legislation in Alberta provides a structure for library boards to be established and develop public library service. These FAQs and fact sheets have been created to assist boards in understanding their legislative responsibilities and successfully fulfilling their mandate to deliver quality public library service to their communities.


See our contact information.

Can alternates be appointed to municipal and intermunicipal library boards?

Municipal councils regularly appoint members to the boards and committees they create. Councils are often able to appoint alternate members to attend meetings when the regular board or committee member is not available. However, municipal councils are not able to appoint alternate members to their municipal or intermunicipal library board.

Does my library board need to employ a professional librarian?

Section 14 of the Libraries Regulation requires any municipal library board of any municipality with a population of 10,000 or more, or any intermunicipal library whose signatories to their intermunicipal agreement have a combined total population of 10,000 or more, to employ a professional librarian.

A professional librarian is defined as a graduate of an ALA-accredited postgraduate library program in Canada or equivalent from another country.

Public Library Services Branch will consider the following scenarios to be compliant with this section of the Regulation:

  • The library board employs a professional librarian. The professional librarian works under an employer-employee relationship as defined in Alberta labour law.
    • Full time and part time arrangements are acceptable.
  • The library board enters into a contract for professional librarian services.
    • Contracted services should be related to the profession of librarianship, such as:
      • Community needs assessment and service planning
      • Collection development
      • Program development and delivery
      • Library management and administration
      • Supervision and/or evaluation of staff
      • Evaluation of services
      • Budget development and/or administration
      • Policy development
    • Contracted services should be ensure the proper management of the municipal library and should be customized to fit the local environment.
      • Library services customarily provided by library systems to member libraries are not adequately personalized, comprehensive, or municipally focused to meet this requirement.
    • Contracted services should be provided on an ongoing basis.

Please refer to the Libraries Regulation for authoritative language on legal requirements.

Download the Employment of a Professional Librarian fact sheet.

Can someone under the age of 18 be appointed to a library board?

We do not believe that there is any clause in the Libraries Act or the Interpretation Act of Alberta that would prevent a minor from being appointed to a municipal library board. It is conceivable that a person under the age of 18 could be just as capable of fulfilling the legal and ethical obligations of a library board trustee as a person over the age of 18 could be.

However, municipal councils should remember that any library board trustee appointed under the Libraries Act is automatically a full member of a governing board, with the same rights and responsibilities as any other board trustee. Municipal councils should take the same care when recruiting board trustees under the age of 18 as they would in recruiting any board trustee. Council must be confident that a new trustee can fulfil all of his or her legal and ethical responsibilities, no matter what the age of that trustee.

Councils and library boards should also be aware that there are other means to allow regular youth input at library board meetings. The Libraries Act states that all library board meetings must be open to any member of the public. The board could invite one or more young people to attend board meetings and give input on library programs and operations. This allows the board to hear youth perspectives on a regular basis without appointing a minor as a board trustee.

Download the full Persons under 18 Serving on Alberta Public Library Boards fact sheet.

My municipality may dissolve - what does that mean for the library board and library service in the area?

Section 10.1(1) of the Libraries Act states that when a municipality is dissolved, any library boards formed by that municipality are also dissolved, and that all the rights, assets, and liabilities of the library board pass to the dissolving municipality immediately prior to that municipality's dissolution. These assets are then passed to the receiving municipality.

For more information download our Municipal Dissolution fact sheet for Alberta public library boards.


Public Library Services Branch
Phone: 780-427-4871
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: libraries@gov.ab.ca