Red tape ties up fledgling Hobbema library

Organizers in Hobbema are learning that collecting books alone does not make a library -- they must also cut through plenty of red tape.

Hobbema library caught in jurisdictional no-man's land

Organizers in Hobbema are learning that collecting books alone does not make a library -- they must also cut through plenty of red tape.

After a massively successful book drive last week, in which CBC listeners donated thousands of books for the Hobbema project, organizers behind the would-be library have encountered numerous jurisdictional complications.

The problem, they’ve learned, is trying to construct a provincially-funded library on a reserve, which falls under federal jurisdiction.

To get the library off the ground, organizers have decided to run it outside of the provincial system, relying on donated books and funds.

Currently, only one reserve library in Alberta receives provincial funding — the Kainai Library, which serves the Blood Tribe near Lethbridge.

Maggie Macdonald, the woman behind the Kainai Library, said it was difficult to juggle the many jurisdictions involved in creating that library.

"Municipalities... are a provincial responsibility and First Nations Reserves are a federal responsibility so... there are some issues that needed to be sorted out in a political sense in order to make this happen," she told CBC News.

In addition to provincial funding, Macdonald also had to convince several other groups to pitch in to fund the facility.

"The organizations involved were: the Blood Tribe administration, which is providing funding to the school board; the school board, which is taking on responsibility of membership in the system and paying for it; and the regional library system, which is including them in the membership," she said, "and the provincial government, which is finding a way to provide some of the funding."

But after all that, Macdonald said there are advantages to operating within the provincial system, and said she encourages those in Hobbema to keep trying.

With files from CBC’s Scott Stevenson