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At the Alherte Library Conference

needs, showing that ongoing develop­

this year, one of the most impressive

ment of both concepts and equipment

installations and operations, recog­

presentations was 'made by the

would be required to keep the first

nizing that many inexperienced

Simplification was the theme for

Chinook Arch Regional, Shortgrass

participants involved and to attract

people would eventually be pan of

and Marigold Library Systems.

more participant libraries.

the network. Even the equipment

Together they have planned and

When the decision was made

carts had to be rethought to fit into

implemented an innovative technol­

to expand beyond the model for four

tiny libraries with no extra space.

ogy project named RISE, or Rural

regional nodes to a model for all

The independence of individual

Information Services initiativE.

80 libraries in the three systems, the

libraries was respected by designing

The vision is "Improved community

group applied for substantial funding

the system to allow each library to

information resources and the

from the Alberta Rural Development

conference with any other, avoiding

creation of new services provided by

Fund. The size of the funding request

the costs and bureaucracy of central

communiry libraries thereby building

itself was indicative of the sophisti­


rural development and sustainability."

cation of the organizers. A common

Over and over again, the

In my view, their greatest accom­

information technology formula for

presentation speakers emphasized the importance of having clear goals,

plishment is overcoming the many

estimating projects is that only

distance and training barriers

of funding is needed for equipment;

understanding everyone's critical

encountered in delivering rural

the other

needs, planning in phases, listening

library services.


83% is needed for software,

training, project management, etc.

to feedback and responding to

Because hardware is often the easiest

change. Community involvement

the detailed, sustained planning that

part to estimate, grossing up from

was sought and respected, a rarely

led to the achievement of their

that cost is the most reliable way to

considered approach to information

goals. These library systems did not

understand the size of a project.

technology projects. Much more

What really impressed me was

underestimate what was required,

In asking for funding, the RISE

information is available at

yet they did not succumb to the

project group acknowledged the need

intimidation of complexity - neither

for dedicated staff and scoured the

technical nor organizational. This

community for almost 400 letters

from concept to realization was

project demonstrates that we need

of support. They spent a year meeting

rough, because that is the nature

not be driven by circumstances,

with private sector sponsors, poliri·

of interpersonal relations on a

because human ingenuity and

cians and various provincial depart­

macro scale. Nevertheless, vision and

determination can solve all problems

ments to finally obtain

leadership addressed one of Canada's

if people work in concert over time.

from the provincial government,

most serious cultural issues: the

a portion of the almost

enhancement of rural life in an


$3.7 million $5 million Undoubtedly, the RISE journey


urban age.


CLA member Judith M. Umbach

According to the presentation, RISE was initially a project for video conferencing and sharing of programs.

Crucially for success, RISE

is the Chair of the Calgary Pubhc

Evaluation of needs, many meetings,

standardized everything possible.

Library Board. She can be reached

and training for staff resulted in

Communications and equipment


beneficial results from the pilot.

were planned with consideration for

Early feedback revealed additional

both larger and smaller libraries.



#5, 2009


Canadian Library Association


Feliciter issue 5 2009