Free Public Library Cards at Edmonton Public Library Will Continue

The subject of user fees in Alberta public libraries is of great interest to me.

That’s why I was very excited when a colleague recently informed me that a pilot project to remove user fees at Edmonton Public Library during the library’s centennial year was being made permanent!

The number of people with library cards has climbed about 40 per cent during the past year, after the cards that used to cost $12 annually were handed out for free. About 163,000 Edmontonians had library cards a year ago, and that has now jumped to 228,000 people, the EPL numbers says.

I’m not completely plugged in to what’s happening in every public library in the the rest of the country but a lot of stuff emanating out of EPL (the article mentions a contest for a free trip to Iceland if you sign up for a card for example) makes me think that they’re, if not the top, one of the top public library systems in Canada right now.

At the same time, the decision to remove user fees is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned.  Yes, the library will forego $700,000 in revenue but kudos to EPL board and management for doing the right thing for their citizens and maximum accessibility rather than focusing only on the numbers at the bottom of their balance sheet.

That’s what great public library service is all about!

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