The Public Library Services Branch (PLSB) is part of Manitoba Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection. Governed by The Public Libraries Act and associated Regulations, the branch is responsible to the minister to ensure libraries are following related laws and standards. Our goals are designed to foster and strengthen the network of community-based public library services in Manitoba.
While public libraries are managed and operated by local governments, the province supports the delivery of province-wide services through municipal and regional public library systems to enhance local service delivery province-wide.
The branch works with communities and library boards to develop, enhance and extend local service. Library consultants support public libraries by monitoring and advising on organizational and governance matters. The branch maintains standards and guidelines to support community development efforts.
Primarily public libraries are funded through local tax-levies. The province provides annual grants to support library operations, collection development and technology. The branch considers community investment to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of provincial funding to public libraries.
Public library boards control the expenditure of all funds collected under local tax-levies and other revenue. Public libraries must keep detailed records and submit accounts to be audited. Annual budgets and audits must be presented to local councils and submitted to the branch to be eligible for provincial grants. Grant applications are assessed by the branch and eligibility is determined according to regulated funding standards and in compliance with statutory responsibilities.
The branch administers several tools to collect information and assesses local services to support evidence-based policy development; locally and province-wide. Key performance indicators are reviewed annually and published for all public library systems in Manitoba. User satisfaction surveys help libraries develop community need assessments and define program and operational objectives.
Library boards hire and set the pay and benefits for their staff. In co-operation with other organizations, the branch sets classification specifications for library staff at every level. The branch also maintains position description templates, and supports library boards during competition processes and performance evaluations.
The branch conducts research to support library and program development. Library boards and senior staff engage our professional library consultants to get advice and to evaluate services. The branch develops resource-sharing systems to assist public libraries manage user requests across Manitoba. The branch also coordinates shared-acquisition strategies for library resources in both print and digital formats.
The branch supports the development of Open Shelf and Traveling Library service agreements between public libraries and communities not otherwise served. This program is mainly intended to address unique service challenges in remote and northern communities to encourage library service development. Agreements are based on the community needs identified and scaled to the service-levels contracted. Costs are generally supported by participating local governments.
The branch provides leadership for public libraries by representing Manitoba’s policy interests both provincially, nationally, and across all subsectors. The branch also works to help Manitoba’s public libraries provide modern and responsive services as new technology, shifting user demands, and other pressures evolve and reshape the library service model into the future. In partnership with national and provincial agencies, the branch coordinates and supports library programs and partnerships which raise public awareness about library services.
While the library profession is not regulated in Canada, a master’s level qualification is the basic qualification for a professional librarian. The branch provides regular orientation sessions for new library staff and trustees; it also supports Association efforts with respect to the development and delivery of an annual professional development conference. The branch develops relevant training and distributes regular communication about learning opportunities available in Manitoba and online. The branch participates on the Red River College Library and Information Technology Advisory Committee to advise on the development of the library technician program.
The branch director and a ministerial representative participate on the board and support the appointed members in developing advice for the Minister. The branch also provides administrative support to coordinate meetings and develop board policy.