Based on current population levels, the Vauxhall Public Library could stand to receive a significant increase in provincial funding in the near future.
In the 2011 federal census, Vauxhall’s population level was recorded to have increased to 1,288 from the previous 2006 level of 1,069, possibly opening up new windows of opportunity for provincial library grants.
That potential new funding is contingent on the province actually recognizing new municipal population levels in calculating provincial library grant funding.
“With regard to provincial funding, we’re now over 1,200 people, but the money we got last fall was still based on 2010 numbers,” said Vauxhall library board member Brian Hagen, speaking to Vauxhall town council on Jan. 6 as part of delegation from the Chinook Arch Regional Library Board. “I’m not sure when they’re going to switch over — our funding will increase quite a bit.”
Currently on an annual basis, the Vauxhall Public Library receives $6,500 from the Town of Vauxhall, $8,350 from the province, and $10,500 from the M.D. of Taber.
“Basically, your funding from the province will double,” said Robin Thiessen Hepher, associate director of the Chinook Arch Regional Library System. “That will give you an extra $8,350. There’s a big advocacy movement right now. What the province does is sometimes they will increase the per capita money that they give. Right now, the money is based on 2010 populations. If your population has crested 1,200, then you’re in that bracket of 1,200 to 3,000, and it will go from $8,350 to over $16,000.”
The province has been slow to recognize municipal population shifts with library funding.
“We’re three years behind with population. That’s a little bit extreme in a province like this that’s growing so rapidly,” said Thiessen Hepher. “On the other hand, there were about 16 years, from the early 1990s to not that long ago, where there were no increases at all from the province. So we’re quite a bit better off than we were 10 years ago. There’s a few other things the province contributes to as well. They pay for our connection to the supernet, which for Vauxhall is a about a $6,000 per year expense that is covered for them.”
Receiving a provincial library grant is also contingent on municipalities themselves making moderate financial contributions.
“If you look at the overall dollars that go into library funding in the province, most of it comes from municipalities, which makes sense, because it is primarily a municipal service,” said Thiessen Hepher. “There is some support from the province, however. They provide a per capita grant if you’re over 3,000 population. Vauxhall I think is about 1,100 or something like that, so you’re getting a flat grant of $8,350 per year for your library. You have to apply for that every year from the province, and that money is also contingent on the town contributing some money as well, which I think the minimum threshold for that is $2 per capita, that level was set in about 1978.”
Although the contribution threshold is quite low for municipalities, most contribute more than is actually required to qualify for provincial grant funding.
“Most councils contribute far more than $2 per capita — some are as high as $60 per capita. There’s quite a range. As I mentioned earlier, the local council sets the funding expropriation for their local library, and that’s why there’s such a huge range. It just depends on what level of library service you want to offer,” said Thiessen Hepher.
The M.D. of Taber, although not operating their own library, is a significant contributor to various regional libraries.
“In addition, the Vauxhall library gets some money from the M.D. of Taber,” said Thiessen Hepher. “The M.D. of Taber doesn’t operate a library, but they do have a library board. What that does is bring in that funding, roughly about $5 per capita, which they re-distribute to Vauxhall, Hays, Enchant, Taber and Grassy Lake. I think that brings in another $10,000 to run the Vauxhall library as well.”
In 2012, Vauxhall residents borrowed 9,580 items from other libraries in the regional library system, and loaned 2,031 items.