Mission and History

MISSION:  Marigold cultivates a collaborative library community to support a range of responsive, quality library services.

Established in March 1981 under the Libraries Act of Alberta, Marigold Library System is a not-for-profit municipal collaborative that provides affordable, state of the art public library services and support. Marigold celebrated its 36th Anniversary in 2017.

Edith, Lucille and Gaye - founders of Marigold


Marigold’s founding members:  Gaye Ross (Drumheller), Lucille Dougherty (High River) and Edith Helton (Three Hills) — three visionary women who travelled across south-central Alberta to promote the idea of greater public library access through collaboration.

In 1976, three visionary women travelled across south-central Alberta to promote the idea of greater public library access through collaboration. Gaye Ross of Drumheller, Lucille Dougherty of High River and Edith Helton of Three Hills formed a steering committee to organize campaigns, hold workshops and convince decision-makers to support the formation of a library system. The name “Marigold Library System” was inspired by the marigold flower, which Gaye considered to be bright, lively and resilient. Marigold was established by agreement on January 1, 1981 and officially opened on April 17, 1982 in Strathmore, in a building that had housed an armoury after the second world war. Strathmore was selected as the most central and suitable location. Premier Peter Lougheed noted that: “The professional assistance of the Marigold System will enable the member municipalities to provide improved service to their citizens. I am sure that this, the first public library-based cooperative library system in Alberta, will serve as a positive model for other areas within our province.”

Since 1981, Marigold has grown from its inaugural 15 members and now serves 44 municipalities, Stoney Nakoda and Siksika Nations, the Townsite of Redwood Meadows, 37 member library boards, 36 libraries, 12 book deposits, 2 inter-library loan pickup lockers and 316,535 people. Marigold member municipalities span the width of Alberta, from the B.C. border to the Saskatchewan border.  Aside from a small addition that was completed in 1989, Marigold’s historic building in Strathmore has not grown, despite the increase in staff and services!

Marigold Library System is a not-for-profit municipal collaborative that provides affordable, state of the art public library service and support. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, important services like a union catalogue, interlibrary loan, reference assistance and a paperbacks-by-mail service were established. Yearly Summer Reading Programs were held, and book deposits were set up in a number of small communities. Public library service has evolved in the decades since Marigold’s formation. Libraries have become dynamic flexible gathering places that foster community connections, offer programs and services that respond to community needs, encourage life-long learning, recreation, literacy and innovation. Marigold’s services have evolved as well. While traditional services like those listed above are still offered, there have been many new innovations in the years since Marigold was founded. In 1999, computers were installed in Marigold member libraries to provide Internet and e-mail access to patrons. Today, these services have expanded further to include:

  • high speed internet access, wifi, videoconferencing and websites for member libraries
  • online resources for training, homework help and language learning
  • library software and mobile applications providing online convenience services such as remote renewals and holds
  • library materials in numerous formats such as Blu-ray, Large Print books and MP3 audiobooks, as well as a collection of downloadable eBooks, audiobooks, TV shows, movies and music 
  • training programs for library staff, local board, volunteers and the public
  • a dedicated Minecraft server, as well as programming kits and games that can be borrowed by member libraries
  • advocacy and marketing resources
  • a bulk purchasing program for office, bibliographic, and IT equipment and supplies
  • daily deliveries of interlibrary loan materials to member libraries
  • and so much more

In 1998, Marigold Library System, Northern Lights Library System and Yellowhead Regional Library formed The Regional Automation Consortium, or TRAC. TRAC received the Innovative Collaboration Award for Public Library Service in 2002. Peace Library System later joined TRAC in 2004. By sharing a catalogue, patrons of Marigold member libraries enjoy seamless access to over 3.3 million items from more than 180 Alberta libraries. With the advent of ME Libraries and Alberta-wide borrowing in 2014, further barriers to access were removed. In 2016, patrons at Marigold member libraries borrowed over 2 million books, movies and audiobooks, checked out over 150,000 eBooks and visited the online catalogue over 14 million times!

Marigold Library System continues to be a forward-thinking organization and a champion of public library service throughout south-central Alberta. The vision of Marigold’s founders has been sustained by participating municipalities and strengthened by Marigold and member library staff, board members and partners.

As population grows and communities change, there is an increasing need to provide collections, services and programs that are culturally inclusive and broaden cultural awareness. Regional library systems are more relevant than ever.

Marigold is looking forward to an exciting new collaboration with the WID (Western Irrigation District) in the development of a new, expanded co-owned and co-located facility in Strathmore.