New: Municipal Councils and Library Boards: Roles and Responsibilities. This document is designed for Councillors and CAOs, highlighting the parts of the Libraries Act and Libraries Regulation that they need to know to understand and manage their relationship public library boards.

The Libraries Act

The Libraries Act provides the legal framework for public library service in Alberta. It defines the public library as a municipal service. It provides for the establishment of municipal library boards which manage library service for the community on behalf of the local municipal council.

Library systems, which deliver services and support on a regional level, are also created under the Libraries Act. Municipalities and school authorities can join library systems. Systems are governed by a board consisting of representatives of system members.

Other highlights of the act include:

  • The library board is a corporation, with full management and control of the public library.
    • The board can hire employees, enter into contracts, sue, and be sued.
  • Municipal library boards are formed by municipal council, via a bylaw.
  • Municipal boards are named "The (name of municipality) Library Board".
  • Municipal boards have 5-10 members, including up to two councillors from the municipality that formed it.
    • Councillors from other municipalities can also sit on the board, but they must be appointed by the council of municipality that formed the board.
  • Council appoints and dismisses all board members, not just municipal councillors.
  • A library employee (including the library manager) cannot be on the board.
  • A board member can serve up to three terms. Each term can be up to 3 years long.
    • If a board member has been appointed for three consecutive terms and council wishes to appoint him or her again, two-thirds of the municipal council must pass a resolution stating that the member can be reappointed for more than three consecutive terms.
  • The municipal library board presents a budget and an estimate of required funds to council. The council can approve the funding request in whole or in part.
    • Council does not control the library board's budget. As a corporation, it is up to the library board to set its own budget and manage its own finances.
      The library board must keep financial records. A non-board member acceptable to council must review the finances yearly and send a report to council in a form acceptable to council.
  • A board member missing 3 consecutive meetings without board authorization is considered to have resigned.
    • A board member may miss more than 3 consecutive meetings with prior permission of the board given by board motion.
  • The board elects its own chair, and any other officers it needs. These may include a vice-chair, a secretary, or a treasurer.
    • Only the chair must be elected. The board can elect (or not elect) any other officers based on local needs and processes.
  • The board keeps its meeting minutes, resolutions and bylaws in printed form signed by the chair (or the designate). These records must be made available to the public.
  • Library boards may pass bylaws for the safety and use of their facility. See the bylaws page for more information.

The Libraries Regulation

The Libraries Regulation defines required business practices for public library boards. Highlights of the regulation include:

  • Library boards must have certain policies, including confidentiality of user records, finance, and personnel policies, among others. See the policies page for more information.
  • A municipal library board must develop a Plan of Service based on a community needs assessment. See the Plan of Service page for more information.
  • Municipal library boards must submit their bylaws, policies, Plan of Service and an annual report to the province (i.e. Public Library Services Branch).
  • All board meetings are public meetings. Anyone can attend a library board meeting, but only members of the board can vote.
    • A board may go in camera to discuss certain confidential matters as defined in section 18(1) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Regulation. This means that no members of the public may attend, except those who the board invites, and no minutes are taken.
    • The board cannot make decisions while in camera – it must make a motion once it has come out of camera.
    • The board should meet in camera rarely.
  • All board policies must be made available to the public.
  • If the municipality that formed your library board has a population greater than 10,000 people, your board must employ a professional librarian (i.e. someone with a Master's degree in Library and Information Studies or an equivalent degree).
    • The professional librarian does not have to be the library manager. Your board can also fulfil this requirement by contracting with another library board that employs a professional librarian.
  • A school-housed public library requires a legal agreement between the library board and the school authority. The library board must have its own bank account.
    • The signing officers of the board cannot be employees of the school authority.
    • The school-housed library must be open to the public outside of school hours. This can include evenings, weekends, or both. The school-housed public library must be open during the summer.