Alberton Library

Purchases and the librarian are paid for by the province, but utilities at the library are paid with a grant from the town of Alberton. (Province of P.E.I.)

Provincial policies around funding of services in municipalities could shut off crucial funding for a library in western P.E.I., and close it down, say library board officials.

The public library in Alberton first opened 80 years ago. It is part of the provincial system, with purchases and a part-time librarian funded by the province. But unlike most provincial libraries it receives a further grant from the town of $2,500 to pay for heat and lights.

That could end next year, according to library board chair Alan Curtis.

"Apparently, Municipal Affairs is suggesting that municipalities should not give grants or donations to non-municipal services," said Curtis.

"So this is a public service, provided by the province, but the facility is run by a group of volunteers."

Donations already cover half the $5,000 annual bill for heat and lights. Library technician Kelly Gillis said it would be hard to raise the entire amount in a town of only 1,000 people.

It's very worrisome. Where is that funding going to come from?" said Gillis.

"We could have the greatest programs in the world at the library but it would be in the cold and in the dark."

Natasha Dunn - Custom

Alberton town Coun. Natasha Dunn says if it is up to her the library will get its grant. (CBC)

However an official from the provincial Department of Municipal Affairs told CBC News in an email Friday morning there is no issue with the town funding the library.

"No one from Municipal Affairs advised the Council that it would be inappropriate to provide grants to libraries funding a library," wrote senior communications officer Jennifer MacDonald-Donovan.

MacDonald-Donovan wrote there has been no change in policy.

Town Councillor Natasha Dunn said if it's up to her the library will get funding.

"The library provides an amazing service to people who that's their only social outing," said Dunn.

"It's also a service that's attracting people from the outlying areas into the town."

The library plans to make a presentation to council in January appealing for help.

For mobile device users: Who should cover the utilities cost for the library in Alberton?