Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Oil and Libraries

It's a matter of perspective. Gasoline prices at the pump in the US make headlines. Compared to what's paid in other parts of the world, US prices are still low but compared to what's been paid in the past, current prices are painful to many.

But it's most defnitely a matter of perspective. I was in Alberta a few weeks ago, and the place is awash in money just as it was in the mid-80s. As an oil producer, refiner, and broker, Alberta benefits while the rest of us cringe as we fill up our gas tanks. Now, my pals in Alberta may cringe too when they fill the tank but they see wages increase and real estate value increase. One of my long-time friends bought a house several years ago for less than $200K CN and now has it on the market for $700K, fully aware that whomever buys it will tear it down and put up a much bigger more costly house on the lot.

What does this have to do with libraries? In the last big boom, not much benefit overtly flowed from the government to "public goods." This time, it's different. In March, the provincial government of Alberta tabled a bill called the Access to the Future Act which proposed $4.5 billion CN in new and expanded post-secondary endowments and scholarships.

Some of this funding is to be allocated to the Lois Hole Campus Alberta Digital Library, a digital library that will provide access to material currently held in the individual libraries of Alberta post-secondary institutions. So libraries in Alberta can expect funding of approximately $30 million over 3 years towards the acquisition of digital information products, implementation of infrastructure to deliver information to the entire post-secondary system, and the development of four regional Digitization Centres.

And for US readers...the government that allocated all this money to scholarship and libraries? It's Canada's version of a dyed-in-the-wool right of center party.

The OCLC connection: Ernie Ingles, Vice-Provost (Learning Services) & Chief Librarian at the University of Alberta is a delegate to OCLC's Members Council and was this past weeknd elected as Vice-President/President Elect of Members Council....the first non-US delegate elected to this position and I know for sure, the first M├ętis to be elected.

I've known Ernie for almost 20 years and his resume is extensive and impressive. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and also a recipient of the Queen's Jubilee medal as is my dad (although for different reasons.) The medal acknowledges those Canadians who "have made an outstanding and exemplary contribution to the community or to Canada as a whole."

Lucky OCLC.

1 comment:

Paul said...

More library goodness indirectly resulting from having some extra cash in the Province: A new Central Calgary Public Library...