Quick facts about Alberta public libraries:

The 2016 statistics are a result of the compilation of the data from the 2016 Annual Report as completed by Alberta's library boards.

Library boards and service points

  • 222 municipal library boards responsible for serving Albertans.
  • Seven regional library systems serving 212 library boards, 307 municipalities, and 271 library service points.
  • 322 library service points across Alberta.

Municipalities

  • 351 municipalities in Alberta, including Metis Settlements, Improvement Districts and Special Areas
  • 317 (90%) municipalities provide access to municipal library service.
  • 34 municipalities do not provide any level of public library service (many of these are Summer Villages)
  • 4,011,044 Albertans (based on 2016 population) have access to a public library: 99.8% of the total provincial population
  • Only 0.2% of the provincial population does not have access to public library service

Library use

In 2016,

  • Albertans had access to over 21 million books, CDs, DVDs, eBooks and other materials at Alberta public libraries (5.5 library items per capita).
  • There were 1,395,478 library cardholders in Alberta, representing 35% of the population.
  • Albertans borrowed over 38 million items from public libraries.
  • Alberta libraries circulated 9.5 items per person.
  • Albertans visited their libraries in person over 21 million times.
  • Albertans visited their libraries virtually through their library's website over 16 million times.
  • Over 1.4 million people took part in one of the over 89,000 programs offered by Alberta's libraries.

Library funding

In 2016,

  • Provincial operating grants to public library boards (municipal and system) totaled $29,744,701, representing 14% of total library operating revenue.
  • The province also expended $4,446,156 to support the provincial library network. This included funds for SuperNet connectivity for all public libraries, electronic resources, and the resource sharing network. Total provincial support for public library service amounted to $34,190,857.
  • Municipal contributions (including in-kind support) to public library boards (municipal and system) totaled $155,817,341. This represented 73% of total library operating revenue.
  • Public libraries spent $14,145,695 on library materials ($3.53 per capita served).

In the five-year period between 2011 and 2016,

  • Local funding support for public libraries increased by 27%
  • Provincial grants to public library boards increased by 16%
  • Provincial network support increased by 8%
  • Population served by public libraries increased by 12%

Support for public library service in Alberta

  2011 2016
Local support per capita served*

$34.37

$38.85

Provincial support per capita served*

$8.36

$8.52

*includes support given to local municipal library boards and regional system boards

Other facts about Alberta's public libraries

In 2016,

  • There were 1,995 (full-time equivalent) employees in public libraries. In addition, there were 162 full-time employees in library systems. In total, there were 2,157 full-time employees devoted to public library service in Alberta.
  • Public libraries were open on average 36.16 hours per week.

    Source: Public Library Statistics, 2016, Public Library Services Branch

2016 Summary | 2016 Public Library Statistics | 2016 Top Thirty

Municipal Support | Provincial Support


Statistical Reports and Charts:

2016

2016 Public Library Statistics | Average Local Appropriation Per Capita (2016) | 2016 Top Thirty | 2016 Quick Facts

2015

2015 Public Library Statistics | Average Local Appropriation Per Capita (2015) | 2015 Top Thirty | 2015 Quick Facts

2014

2014 Public Library Statistics | Average Local Appropriation Per Capita (2014) | 2014 Top Thirty | 2014 Quick Facts

2013

2013 Public Library Statistics | Average Local Appropriation Per Capita (2013) | 2013 Top Thirty | 2013 Quick Facts

2012

2012 Public Library Statistics | Average Local Appropriation Per Capita (2012) | 2012 Top Thirty | 2012 Quick Facts

2011

2011 Public Library Statistics | Average Local Appropriation Per Capita (2011) | 2011 Top Thirty | 2011 Quick Facts

2010

2010 Public Library Statistics | Average Local Appropriation Per Capita (2010) | 2010 Top Thirty | 2010 Quick Facts

2009

2009 Public Library Statistics | Average Local Appropriation Per Capita (2009) | 2009 Top Thirty
2009 Library Card Fees | 2009 Quick Facts

2008

2008 Public Library Statistics | Average Local Appropriation Per Capita (2008) | 2008 Top Thirty

2007

2007 Public Library Statistics | Average Local Appropriation per capita (2007) | 2007 Top Thirty

2006

2006 Public Library Statistics | Average Municipal Support Per Capita (2006) | 2006 Top Thirty

2005

2005 Public Library Statistics | Average Local Appropriation per Capita (2005) | 2005 Top Thirty


For More Information

Send requests for additional statistical data and analysis to kerry.anderson@gov.ab.ca

Provincial Support for Public Library Service

2016 Provincial Support for Public Library Service

The role of the provincial government in public library service delivery is to:

  • support equitable access to library service
  • maintain a governance structure
  • provide funding assistance
  • establish and support a provincewide resource-sharing network

To that end, the provincial government, through the Public Library Services Branch (PLSB), provides monetary support in a variety of ways.

Operating grants

The primary means by which the provincial government supports public library service is through annual operating grants to library boards. In 2016, provincial grants from PLSB to municipal and system library boards totalled $29,744,701 ($21,270,958 to municipal library boards and $8,473,743 to system library boards). This support equals $7.42 per capita served.

Provincial grants to municipal library boards as compared to Local Appropriation can be seen in the following charts:

Provincial and Municipal per capita (2016) | Provincial and Municipal per capita as a percentage (2016)

Public library network support

The provincial government also provides network support to enable provincewide sharing of public library resources. Public library network support provided by PLSB totalled $4,446,156 in 2016. This included:

  • $1,850,000 for SuperNet connectivity for all Alberta public libraries participating in the Public Library Network
  • $764,806 to cover the cost of interlibrary loan delivery
  • $250,000 to The Alberta Library to facilitate access to resources from the academic library sector
  • $276,898 to cover the costs for service to broker provincewide, national and international interlibrary loans from all types of libraries, as well as for the ME Libraries initiative
  • $1,304,452 for public library access to a variety of electronic resources

Total Provincial Support

In 2016, total provincial support for public library service (as provided by PLSB) totalled

$34,190,857 or $8.52 per capita served

Have questions about the information presented here? Contact Kerry Anderson at Public Library Services Branch.

Municipal Support for Public Library Service

In Alberta, the municipality is one of the foundations for public library service delivery, along with the library board and the province. The role of the province is to support equitable access to library service and to establish and support a provincewide public library network for communications and sharing of library resources. In order to fulfill its role, the province is reliant on a robust municipal base upon which to layer its support. The following resources demonstrate the strong support Alberta's library boards receive from their municipalities.

Local Appropriation

Local Appropriation is the amount of monetary support a municipality allocates to its municipal library board in operating funds for delivery of public library service in the municipality (which often entails the operation of the municipal library). It can take two forms:

  1. an amount of money appropriated from the local tax base and transferred directly to the library board
  2. an amount of money expended by the municipality on behalf of the library board for library purposes (e.g., utilities, building maintenance, audit/financial review, etc.)

Local Appropriation per capita is simply the Local Appropriation (as defined above) divided by the current population of the municipality served by the library board (as delineated in the most recent edition of Alberta Municipal Affairs' Official Populations list).

This figure allows for the comparison of relative support across different population sizes: A board in a smaller centre can compare the support it receives from its municipality to boards in larger centres.

In 2016, the provincial Local Appropriation per capita (total local appropriation given to all municipal library boards/total population served by all municipal library boards) was $38.91. The following two charts show the average (i.e., the arithmetic mean) Local Appropriation per capita by population range and by library system membership.

Average Local Appropriation Per Capita (2016) | Average Local Appropriation - by System (2016)

Each year we also recognize those municipalities that provide the greatest level of support to their local library board. This 'top thirty' list contains municipalities of all sizes, demonstrating that you don't have to be big to do great things. A corresponding list of "all stars" highlights those municipalities that provide strong, consistent support over time.

2016 Top Thirty | Local Appropriation "All Stars"

More detail about Local Appropriation allocated to municipal library boards is provided in the spreadsheet below. It has built in filtering options to allow users to create their own comparison scenarios.

2016 Local Appropriation spreadsheet

Total Municipal Operating Support

In 2016, Local Appropriation provided by municipalities to local library boards totalled $145,770,519. This accounted for 68.2% of all revenue generated for public library service.

In addition to providing monetary support to the local board, most municipalities in Alberta (307) also participate in regional library systems, which leverage the power of cooperation to greatly enhance local public library service delivery. In 2016, municipalities contributed $10,046,822 for library system service.

In 2016, municipalities provided:

  • $143,096,599 to municipal library boards directly;
  • $2,673,921 in expenditures on behalf of municipal library boards; and
  • $10,046,822 to system library boards

for a total of $155,817,342 in municipal operating support for public library service in Alberta, providing a solid foundation upon which the provincial government can layer its support.

Have questions about the information presented here? Contact Kerry Anderson at Public Library Services Branch.