Edmonton Public Library Wins Library of the Year: Statement in the Senate

The Edmonton Public Library's Stanley Milner Library, located in downtown Edmonton

The EPL’s Stanley Milner Library, located in downtown Edmonton.

The Edmonton Public Library (EPL) was named 2014 Library of the Year, the highest honour in North America bestowed on a public library. The EPL is the first ever Canadian library to receive the prestigious award, given by Library Journal magazine and Gale Cengage Learning.

According to the Edmonton Journal, the EPL is the second most visited place in Edmonton, with more than 14 million in-branch and online visits across all 17 library locations. This is a wonderful achievement for the EPL and well-deserved recognition for their valuable work in the community. Public libraries like the EPL are essential to the well-being of society by providing access to knowledge and information.

Today in the Senate, I delivered a statement congratulating the Edmonton Public Library. You can find listen to the statement below, where I’ve also included a transcript.

“Honourable Senators,

I rise today to congratulate and celebrate the Edmonton Public Library, which last week was named Library of the Year in North America by Library Journal magazine.

This award is the highest honour for a public library, and has been described as the “Academy Award, Nobel Prize or Stanley Cup” of the library world.

Edmonton Public Library is the first Canadian library to win this award, but, as noted by the Library Journal, this is only one of many firsts for a library that has been on the leading edge since its humble beginning over a hundred years ago.

In 1941, the library was the first in North America to offer a mobile service with a converted streetcar.

In 1979, it was the first in Canada to use a computerized circulation system.

More recently, it was the first urban library in Canada to develop its own iPhone app, and today its 20,000 Twitter followers and 9,000 Facebook fans put it near the top of North American libraries.

In the award citation, Edmonton Public Library was lauded for having “changed the parameters of what it means to be a public library,” and for having continually adapted and transformed itself.

One of the most important innovations highlighted by Library Journal was the Edmonton Public Library’s deep integration in the community—many of these relationships focus on at-risk or disadvantaged Edmontonians.

Honourable Senators, let us be grateful for our public libraries and recognize their role in ensuring that no person is left behind in a world where access to knowledge is the key to future success.

I know that all senators want to congratulate the Edmonton Public Library, its CEO Linda Cook and her team, as well as Mayor Don Iveson and Edmonton City Council on this tremendous accomplishment.”