The Government of Alberta supports seamless access to public library resources for everyone in Alberta.
Those who have an eligible public library card may borrow from any public library participating in the Public Library Network.
Alberta-wide borrowing is governed by the provincial Resource Sharing Operational Policy for Public Libraries.
ME Libraries is a web-based service that allows people with a library card from a participating library to create an account and access the physical collections at all other participating libraries.
This allows people to use their home library card as their library card at any participating library they have registered with.
Cardholders from eligible libraries have access to over 14 million items at over 300 libraries.
For more information, watch the ME Libraries video.
Infrastructure and delivery
Resource sharing is a key priority for public libraries in Alberta.
To meet this priority, Public Library Services Branch (PLSB) supports the underlying technology required for resource sharing. The province also supports part of the physical delivery of materials to libraries.
The province funds and supports Relais, an interlibrary loan system that automates the processing of requests.
Relais features a union catalogue that allows people to search many libraries at once, and then gives library cardholders the ability to place a request on materials not available at their local libraries. Public library staff then use the system to fill requests from libraries across the province.
Government courier service
Through an agreement with Service Alberta, PLSB facilitates delivery of library materials to all library systems and to several other sites through the Alberta courier service.
The Alberta SuperNet is a broadband network comprised of fibre-optic cables and towers built to connect public institutions across the province and enables high-speed internet access, video conference and other services. While high-speed Internet access is possible with SuperNet, it is not equivalent to SuperNet.
The SuperNet provides 3 basic components that are integral to a fully-functioning public library electronic network:
These are key to facilitating basic public library operations such as the integrated library system and network functions and enabling access to other network services such as multimedia services and digital resources.
SuperNet operational policy
The provincial government has put the SuperNet into public libraries to:
- Create a secure network that will allow public libraries to work together, share catalogue information and facilitate public borrowing of library materials from any public library in the province.
- Provide high-speed broadband access to web-based and licensed information to everyone in Alberta through their local public library even in areas that currently do not have high-speed services.
- Establish a platform for more sophisticated information services such as video streaming, shared programming and community information services through the public library.
The current budget for public library SuperNet connectivity is $2 million per year. This investment enables:
- public libraries and library systems to have secure, high-speed broadband access for their internal operations
- public libraries to give people in Alberta equitable access to physical electronic resources provincewide via shared library catalogues and globally available online databases
- PLSB to implement other provincewide initiatives such as Alberta-wide borrowing as well as access to resources for people with print disabilities
The Alberta Public Library Network aims to provide equitable access to a broad range of resources for all people in Alberta, as determined by Government of Alberta priorities.
An Electronic Resources Operational Policy was created in 2014 to establish principles and guidelines for the effective selection of provincial e-resources.
Library boards acquire electronic resources individually, in response to local needs. Other electronic resources are acquired at the provincial level and provided through the Public Library Network.
The multi-tiered acquisition model allows local autonomy and decision-making while also enabling efficiencies of scale and support of provincial objectives.