By Nikki Jamieson
The library’s tourism efforts are getting a boost from Vauxhall council, but it’s not for the tourism stuff.
During their regular June 19 meeting, Vauxhall town council received a letter from the Vauxhall Library Board chair, Edi Winberg. In the letter, she explains that last year, Tourism Alberta had accredited the library to be a Visitor Information Center for the town. Some of the benefits to having the accreditation include grant purposes and increased traffic flow.
For them to keep the designation for it, they have to abide by several requirements, such as keeping the library open for at least 40 hours a week.
As the library had previously been operating at 32 hours a week, the increase in costs to keep the library open for those extra hours is putting a strain on the library’s funds.
“To be a visitor’s centre, they have to be open 40 hours a week, through the summer, for that,” said Christie Sorensen, Vauxhall councillor.
The letter goes on to request that Vauxhall council pays the wages of the library staff, so the library can remain open the extra eight hours a week from July to the end of August, at a cost of $1,260.
Library board treasurer Joerg Klempnauer said that the amount would be split between two library employees for nine weeks.
Additionally, from what he heard at the last library board meeting, was that since they have the accreditation as a tourist destination, they don’t get funding for it, despite what it says in the letter. He says he will have to look into it, because when they first pursued the designation, he had been told otherwise.
“Otherwise, why would we do it?” asked Klempnauer. “It’s one thing to have this accreditation and have the (designation) from Alberta Tourism in our library, but just for the traffic, I don’t know if it really brings in much for the town.
“It’s a little bit of a second possibility for us to bring people into the town, but it’s not really a money maker for us. If we have to put out additional hours and don’t get anything from the province, I think it’s a one-sided deal, just to be able to put a sign by the road, which we have great problems doing right now.”
When Plumtree inquired about when they were getting the signage for the visitor’s center, Klempnauer said they haven’t gotten it yet due to the “windmill of bureaucracy”.
Klempnauer said they need to fund the staffing for the extra hours open, as otherwise, they can’t keep the designation. The board already predicts a $1,000 deficit for the library this year, and, as the treasurer, he needs to find a way to balance the budget, and one option is to ask the town “to fund a little bit of it.”
Some members of council wondered why retain the designation if it is not going to get the library some extra funding.
“If it’s not helping you get grants, and it’s not helping you get money from the government, then it’s kind of, see you later,” said Martin Kondor, Vauxhall councillor.
Klempnauer reminded council that they did get funding under the normal library funding proposal, but just not for the tourism side of things.
As the near-by Town of Taber’s visitor information center is based out of the town’s irrigation museum, they couldn’t talk to the Taber library about it. Plumtree said she would get in contact with someone from Taber’s to discuss options, and asked that someone talk to the museum.
After clarifying that they do plan on moving forward with this rather quickly, due to summer scheduling at the library, Plumtree suggested that at the end of the year they evaluate their position and see it they want to proceed with it.
Klempnauer suggested then that the town passes a motion to fund it unless they can secure grant funding for it.
Desiring some time to think on it, council received the letter for information.
Returning to the topic later on in the meeting, council agreed to support the library over the summer, noting it is a fairly new group of board members and they may need time to look for grants.
“This is our town, and this is an outreach, for everyone in the community. It think it will be a good idea to support,” said Sorensen, adding that there appears to be some break down on the tourism side as well.
“They’re learning as they go. You can’t learn everything from one meeting either, right? How many years do you sit on council before you actually learn and your feet get wet?”
She said that “it would be nice” to give them some support this year to do it, noting that next year, if it’s not worthwhile, they could scrap it.
Council passed a motion to support the library to the amount of $1,260, with any grant money gained taking care of that amount, for the summer of 2017.