For 101 years, Alberta’s Edmonton Public Library (EPL) has galvanized its ever-growing city. From its beginnings above a meat and liquor store in 1913 to its current configuration as a massive, team-driven enterprise, EPL has served as a pioneering gathering place, connecting people and expanding minds. In the process, it changed the parameters of what it means to be a public library and transformed itself. Having the spirit and creativity to do that meant taking risks, innovating, and embracing change. It made EPL a model for all public libraries and the winner of the 2014 Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year Award. A place where “Europeans and Aboriginals always met and traded,” today, people come “to start fresh, build something new, try something out, and make their mark,” says EPL’s entry for this award.
Leading the way
EPL is the first Canadian library to win the award, one of a host of “firsts” it has achieved. In 1941, EPL was the first public library in North America to offer bookmobile service by using a converted streetcar. In 1979, EPL was the first public library in Canada to install an integrated, computerized circulation system. In 2007, EPL was the first urban public library in Canada to implement RFID technology. That same year, EPL was the first library in Alberta to hire an Aboriginal Services Librarian and to receive Senior Friendly designation from the Alberta Council on Aging. EPL was the first to develop ME Libraries technology, which lets customers self-register for immediate access to reciprocal borrowing from libraries across the province without staff intervention or a shared ILS. EPL was the first in Canada to offer Treehouse online learning courses, Freading, Freegal Music, Simon & Schuster ebooks, and hoopla streaming video. It was the first in Canada to hire an outreach worker, the first urban library in Canada with an iPhone app, and the first to offer both a lending machine and a return chute off-site. EPL is the first public library in Canada with a branch located inside an academic library.
Read the full article at The Library Journal.
Congratulations, EPL, you rock!