Alberton, town library ink deal

Duane Hicks

Alberton residents no longer will have to pay up front for a library card in Fort Frances.
The Fort Frances Public Library Board and Township of Alberton officially inked a new library service agreement last Wednesday (Sept. 9) that will be beneficial to both parties.
For the past several years, the township has been running the Alberton Library Fee Reimbursement program, whereby Alberton residents could be reimbursed for library fees paid to the Fort Frances Public Library, explained Alberton CAO/Clerk-Treasurer Dawn Hayes.
The intent of the program was to foster literacy and learning.
Now that a library service agreement has been implemented, effective Sept. 1, that program has come to an end and Alberton residents now won’t have to pay the library a $77 non-resident fee.
Rather, they can just go in and get a library card.
“Our big push has been to open up access so this removes one more barrier and opens up access for our surrounding communities,” said library CEO Alicia Subnaik Kilgour.
“Alberton has been very progressive in providing library services to its residents through the Fort Frances Library Technology Centre over the years,” noted library board chair Andrew Hallikas.
“This agreement now formalizes what has been done in the past into a clearly-defined partnership.
“It is an agreement that will benefit the residents of Alberton, the residents of Fort Frances, and the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre,” he added.
With the agreement in place, Alberton now can apply to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport for a grant to pay for its residents’ library memberships, which will offset its fee to the library.
The library, in turn, will benefit from the increased revenue and also may have any year-end additional grant (which the ministry may decide to distribute) increased due to the bigger population served.
“It’s a triple win—it’s win-win-win for Alberton residents, Fort Frances residents, and the Fort Frances library in that now we are a larger community,” said Hallikas.
“That puts us in good stead with the ministry in that they like to see this type of thing, where a larger community helps out smaller, sister communities,” he noted.
Hallikas added the agreement means Alberton residents will have access to not only books, movies, and other aspects of the library’s collection, but its services and technology, too.
“That leads to lifelong learning, which is one of our goals, along with building partnerships and community,” he remarked.
The agreement forged with Alberton also will serve as a template for future deals with other municipalities, First Nations, and unincorporated areas.
“The more partnerships like this, and the more agreements we have, also opens up more funding for us from the ministry to help us build capacity in all of those communities,” said Subnaik Kilgour.
“As we acquire more partnerships, they’re going to be paying their share,” agreed Hallikas.
“But also overall our capacity grant will increase, which will allow us to do more with each of the partners,” he added.
“And every partner brings something to the partnership, and we expose the partners to each other, so through that, everybody’s going to benefit.”
Hallikas credited Subnaik Kilgour with taking the lead in forming these new partnerships.
“People are dropping into her office because they are beginning to hear now that we’re seeking partnerships, that we’re approachable, that we’re friendly, and that the other partners are happy with us,” he remarked.
“There’s great word-of-mouth out there.”
Hallikas also thanked Hayes, who secured the agreement with Subnaik Kilgour after spending “countless hours drafting and revising” it.