Library Escapades: The Alberta Government Library (Edmonton)

I have successfully completed the MLIS program and have re-located myself back to my hometown of Edmonton, AB. I've been spending a good amount of time catching up on the sleep that I missed out on in the last couple weeks when final coursework deadlines, last meet-ups with my fellow MLIS'ers, and packing and moving happened. I plan to get back into the job hunt next week where that in itself will (hopefully temporarily) be my full-time job.

Outside of my coursework, I have to say that one thing I enjoyed immensely were library tours. I was heavily involved with the Special Libraries Association - UWO Student Branch, and we would often meet various librarians and make physical visits to their libraries. It was so interesting to see the different space layouts and learn about each library's unique collection and operations, as well as the always pleasant library staff. 

In addition to spending time with family and friends, enjoying 5% GST again, and the lack of humidity, I've been reaching out to the network that I've been building over the past year. Recently, I reconnected with Jane Starr, the Collections Librarian of the Alberta Government Library. How we met is a good example of some networking in action! Before going to the SLA Conference, for the purpose of making connections, I sent an email to Lisa-Jane Watson, the contact listed for SLA Edmonton. I mentioned that I was an MLIS candidate interested in meeting some of the SLA Edmonton members if they were planning to attend the conference in Vancouver. She provided me with Jane's email address, and we arranged to meet at the First-Timers and Fellows Meet the day before the main activities of the SLA Conference. We ended up having a lovely chat about prospective library jobs with the Government of Alberta, and at the Alberta Government Library.

Today, I had the opportunity of touring the Alberta Government Library, and met most of the library staff including Blanka (ILL Tech), Gary (Head Librarian), Jadwiga (Cataloguing/Metadata Tech), Lisa (Cataloguing/Metadata Tech),  Carol (Circulation Tech), Rhonda (Acquisitions/Serials Tech), Chris (Digital Resources Support), and Ann (Digital Services Librarian). The library staff seemed rather extensive, but it makes sense considering how the library is responsible for all publications of all Government of Alberta ministries. 

The Alberta Government Library's purpose is to provide open information, that is, to provide print publications of the Albertan government to Albertans. Originally, the library had 8 branches, which got reduced to 4, and finally to 1 library for everything. I have to say that the space wasn't as terrifying as I had anticipated, but it's still slightly terrifying how limited the physical space is for them to fit so much. Jane certainly has quite the task as the Collections Librarian!

Downsizing to the one library was quite recent, so they are still dealing with issues like how to fit things in the library, where they should go, and what they should let go of. Collection management at its finest! The stacks consisted of your typical categories - reference, main stacks, oversized items, and periodicals. With all of the ministries' publications smushed into one place, there was a lot of variation in topics. For example, in the periodicals, I saw "Animal Health", "Bloomberg Weekly", and "Hatchery International". The main stacks included a lot of smaller "legacy" collections including Tourism Action Plans dated 1989-1992 for every Albertan jurisdiction, Agrifax, which was essentially binders of fact sheets released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Annual Reports, Public Accounts, otherwise known as the Blue Books, and a collection of VHS tapes on Occupational Health and Safety. Jane mentioned that there is a need to have these legacy collections digitized, but it's a project put on hold while no one else has time to do it, and they don't have money to hire someone on contract. I'm going to have to keep my eye on that ;)

The most interesting item had to be Fish! Catch the Energy, Release the Potential! There was a DVD entitled, Fish! which conveys concepts of negotiation and teamwork. Jane said that people from schools and the government departments alike make good use of this item! Another interesting thing is that Jane mentioned there being yoga classes held in the library where mats are placed between stacks. The arched windows of natural light are a very nice touch to what could be a gloomy library full of government documents and books. 

The reference collection was comprised of a lot of almanacs and guidebooks ranging from psychology to NAICS even in the first stack!

The reference collection was comprised of a lot of almanacs and guidebooks ranging from psychology to NAICS even in the first stack!

The periodicals and lounge area. Jane said people come here to read their newspapers while having lunch, but also naps.

The periodicals and lounge area. Jane said people come here to read their newspapers while having lunch, but also naps.

The library staff cubicles!

The library staff cubicles!

I found Alberta Energy publications from Cenovus and Suncor!

I found Alberta Energy publications from Cenovus and Suncor!

The main stacks!

The main stacks!

The periodicals and legacy collections area (where yoga happens). Let there be natural light!

The periodicals and legacy collections area (where yoga happens). Let there be natural light!

The Tourism Action Plans!

The Tourism Action Plans!

Fish! Catch the energy, release the potential!

Fish! Catch the energy, release the potential!

The only Alberta Government Library is labelled as "Library Services", and takes up part of one side of one floor of the 44 Capital Boulevard building.

The only Alberta Government Library is labelled as "Library Services", and takes up part of one side of one floor of the 44 Capital Boulevard building.

For those of you in Edmonton, or with plans to stop in Edmonton anytime soon, I'd encourage you to visit the Alberta Government Library! Located in the 44 Capital Boulevard building in Edmonton, it's open during government office hours, 8:15AM-4:30PM, Monday to Friday excluding statutory holidays, and is open to the public! 

I am absolutely loving these library tours, and don't see it ending anytime soon, so look forward to more library escapades! If you know of a library that you think I should visit, please let me know by sending an email through the form on my Contact page!