The Issues


Public libraries need the proper resources to provide the services that Nova Scotians expect.

  • Nova Scotians want better book and material collections.
  • Nova Scotians want improved open hours.
  • Nova Scotians want 21st century buildings and services that are accessible to everyone.

From: Nova Scotia Provincial Library Consultation 2006. Department of Education, Province of Nova Scotia. Read it here.


But we know that public libraries are not only books, bricks, and mortar. They are staffed by professionals who need adequate pay and professional development opportunities.

  • Public library staff recommend the best materials to use when looking for a job, starting a business, or researching a health concern.
  • Public library staff develop programs and services that stimulate minds, from day one to old age in the pursuit of lifelong learning.
  • Public library staff offer access to new technologies and help make sense of the online world.
  • Public library staff nurture learning by creating spaces that bring people together.
  • Public library staff contribute to the overall well-being, socially and economically, of communities.

The Province of Nova Scotia, municipal councils, and library boards all contribute to the operation of public libraries. Municipal governments pay for the cost of physical branch facilities and, with the library board, arrange for their improvement. It’s a three way partnership that needs to be fair and long ranging.

Currently there is no long range funding strategy. The Library Funding Task Force Report has made recommendations that have yet to be implemented by the Government of Nova Scotia, although they have been approved by LBANS and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.

We need you, the user of Nova Scotia Public Libraries, to ask your MLA, the Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, and the Premier of Nova Scotia to implement the Library Task Force Report.

The Facts


  • Public libraries provide excellent value for dollars spent
  • Nova Scotian public libraries are award winning and internationally recognized for their innovation

Nova Scotians use public libraries

  • 3,699,579 Nova Scotians visit a public library per year
  • 321,243 Nova Scotians have a free library membership card
  • 7,225,857 books and other materials are borrowed each year
  • 505,181 hours of computer use is logged each year in a public library
  • 196,869 people take part in a library program each year

Nova Scotia Public libraries contribute to community social and economic growth

  • 834 Nova Scotians are employed by public libraries
  • Over $30 million dollars goes into Nova Scotia communities each year through public libraries
  • Hundreds of youth are hired each year in skilled and community oriented jobs
  • Public libraries are located in many rural communities
  • Public libraries are excellent community partners, providing skills and administration to many community ventures
  • Public libraries provide community public spaces welcoming to all
  • Public libraries make Nova Scotian communities good places to live and work

Nova Scotia public libraries provide a wide range of lifelong learning services

  • 77 branch public libraries are located throughout Nova Scotia
  • Public libraries also offer mobile branch, books by mail, and outreach branch services
  • Public libraries offer 24 hour service through online libraries
  • Nova Scotia public libraries offer a selection of 2,398,115 books and other materials
  • Public libraries offer access to over 700 computers each year with high speed internet and a complete suite of software
  • Public libraries provide over 11,000 programs each year to all ages that support lifelong learning and family literacy
  • Public libraries provide 24 hour high speed wireless access

Source: 2008-09 Nova Scotia Provincial Library Annual Report. Department of Education.


Operation and funding

In Nova Scotia regional library boards provide services which are in each case centrally administered throughout the whole of a geographic area and determined to have sufficiently large population to support good library service. According to the Libraries Act a regional library exists when one or more cities, towns, or municipalities enters into agreement with each other and with the Minister of Education for the establishment and operation of a regional public library.

The first regional library in Nova Scotia was established under the Act in 1949. By 1972 a structure of eleven regional libraries covering the whole province was in place. By 1981 all sixty-six municipalities in the province belonged to one of the eleven regional libraries. Due to municipal restructuring in 1995-96 the number of municipalities has changed as well the number of regional libraries. Nova Scotia now has nine regional libraries, which are the basic institutions that form the public library system in Nova Scotia. They operate 77 branch libraries and several mobile branches throughout the province. Each region has geographic boundaries, recognized by a provincial-municipal agreement, contracting authority to engage staff, acquire physical property and develop collections. These established institutions have their own histories and have developed a wide variety of expertise, from literacy programs to innovative delivery services to remote locations and users.

Regionally raised funds, municipal taxes and grants from the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Culture support the regional libraries.