By Kevin J Sabo
For the Lacombe Express
Parkland Regional Library Services has a new home in Lacombe.
The library service provider moved into their new, purpose built, headquarters in Lacombe in October, the culmination of project spanning around three years. The new headquarters was built to replace the previous building, which hadn’t been updated since the 1980s, and was in need of significant work.
“While libraries do much of the same work they used to, the building no longer met our operational requirements. We didn’t have enough office space,” said Parkland Regional Library Director Ron Sheppard.
“The power and network cabling were cobbled together and added to over the years,”
The Parkland Regional Library computer network has over 600 computers on it, split between the head office, and the 49 member libraries that are part of the system.
“We don’t actually run the member libraries,” said Sheppard.
“There’s 49 service points that we support.”
While Parkland Regional doesn’t actually run the individual libraries, the organization is responsible for the acquisitions and cataloging of the system inventory, purchasing all the computer equipment in the member libraries, computer network management, and inter-library loan management.
“We enable you to borrow from clear across the province. All the e-content is purchased and licenced through us,” said Sheppard.
“Someone with a Parkland Library card can borrow from 350 libraries in Alberta.”
Thanks to grants from the provincial government and the sale of their old facilities, the total cost to the library system provider for their new headquarters was around $100,000, which was, according to Sheppard, much less than they would have paid to renovate the old building.
“To renovate it would have cost us everything in the grant, plus all of our reserve funds just to change and upgrade the critical infrastructure,” said Sheppard.
“Because of the deal we were able to participate in, and sell the old building to the city, it made more sense to build a purpose-built building.”
A significant amount of planning went into the building, setting up the organization for future growth.
“We tried to plan for this building, so it (could) be expanded and renovated. It should be good for at least another 50 years,” said Sheppard.
In total, 21 full-time employees work out of the new office space, plus four part-time inter-library loan van drivers, though the organization is currently in the process of looking for a fifth.
On average, 1.2 million items a year are borrowed and moved through the Parkland Regional Library system.