Reason #75 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Edmonton Public Library

By Emil Tiedemann

Only West Edmonton Mall gets more visitors on an annual basis than the 18 Edmonton Public Libraries combined, at more than 14 million people! They borrowed well-over 10 million books, CDs, DVDs, and magazines from the EPL - which has a entire collection of some 17 million items - while about 350,000 folks participated in some 14,000 library-run programs. 
In 2014, the EPL was named Library of the Year by 'Library Journal.'

Those are some pretty impressive numbers, stats that have led to dozens of awards since 2010, including Library Journal’s 2014 Library of the Year, the first time a Canadian library was ever chosen. But, the century-old EPL has been pioneering public services for many decades now, like in 1941 when they were the first North American library to offer a bookmobile! 

In 1979, the EPL became Canada’s first library to install an integrated, computerized circulation system, and in 2007 it was the first urban library in the country to implement RFID technology. The following year, the EPL applied “an integrated and strategic commitment to community-led service,” hiring a librarian for every branch to work remotely connecting and consulting with its customers in order to understand community needs, set the library’s services and policies, and to identify and then eliminate barriers to the extensive services the EPL offers both online or in-branch. 
More than 14 million people visit the libraries of Edmonton every year!

But, the EPL is plenty more than the traditional services one might come to expect from a modern library. They’re focus on community is admirable and truly unique, an outreach dedicated to providing support and solutions for homelessness, poverty, employment, low-income housing, suicide prevention, and even finding medical care for its customers. 

They’ve also made it easier for anyone to get a library card, waiving fees and identification requirements for those without. These sort of progressive services and the EPL’s strong community partnerships are leading the way for how libraries around the world could operate, ushering in a new tradition that sees way beyond educational home videos and paperbacks. #spreadthewords


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