Universal library card

By Cameron Baughen

In the near future, a new library card may reduce the number of cards you’ll have to cart around in your wallet or purse.

Starting in September, University of Calgary students with a clean library record will be able to obtain an Alberta Library Card, which lets holders access member libraries throughout Alberta. Manager of Access Services for the U of C Library Darlene Warren says this service will benefit students.

"Students will now be able to directly go to another library and sign out books," says Warren. "If a student discovers there is a book available in Red Deer, then the student can go there and get the book."

People with valid U of C library cards will be able to pick up the Alberta Library Card free of charge. What access the card will allow in other libraries depends on the particular library.

"The Alberta Library Card will apply only to books," says Warren. "In our library we do not allow journals to be taken out, so Alberta Library Card users will have no special privilege of signing them out. This may vary between different institutions."

Warren added ALC patrons will be limited to five books at the U of C. People who need to take out more books must still obtain a U of C library card.

Enterprise Librarian for the University Library Christine Hayward says this service will mostly apply to library patrons who travel often.

"Say a student travels to Lethbridge for the weekend or goes to Edmonton to visit a friend," she says. "With the card they will be able to do some work there. [The] card will allow them to take out books at the local library and this will mean added convenience for the student. You can borrow from other institutions and then return the book back here [to the U of C]."

The Alberta Library Card is one of a number of programs, including directed spending on undergraduate level books, increased fundraising and shorter loan periods, aiming to increase the availability of books for students.

"Talking to the Students’ Union, we found there weren’t enough books for undergraduates, so we felt that this would help," says Hayward. "Using Document Services, a book can take weeks to arrive from another library. In the case of recalling a book, many students don’t [because] it takes too long. By using this card, a student can now borrow directly from any member library, reducing the waiting time."

Since it is a new program, not all libraries in Alberta have joined the system, including the Calgary Public Library.

"Currently the City of Calgary library board is discussing whether to become a member of the system," says Warren. "Eventually all municipal, university and college libraries should be linked up to this system."

A complete list of libraries and institutions in the Alberta Library Card system is available at: www.library.ualberta.ca/altalib.

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