Medicine Hat librarian among winners of provincial award

By Charles Lefebvre
June 19, 2018 - 3:34pm

MEDICINE HAT, AB — The Medicine Hat Public Library’s new chief librarian recently received one of the highest honours from the province.

Ken Feser, formerly with the province’s Public Library Services Branch, was among the recipients of the Premier’s Award for Public Service during an award ceremony on June 14.

“It was really something special for us,” he said. “I’m just very honoured that I was able to participate as a team member in something that was recognized in this way. It sort of was a real cap to my career in government for sure.”

Feser spent 10 years with the organization as a library consultant, working with libraries on board governance and supporting the provincial library network.

The group was honoured for their role in the creation of the Read Alberta Ebooks project, which made more than 1,500 Alberta e-books available to borrow at libraries across the province. The books range from fiction and nonfiction, to children’s titles and nature guides, and were all published in the province.

“It really seemed to be a pretty obvious benefit,” he said. “A lot of the materials that are available electronically are more mainstream, popular fiction and nonfiction titles, which are also important, but it just seemed to round out what was available to people to have these Alberta books.”

Feser adds the project also comes with innovative licensing and usage rules that aren’t always common with e-books.

“There’s lots of frustration with e-books in libraries with the rules the vendors put on,” he said. “You can’t have simultaneous use, so for a popular book, you go to the library, and it says you have to wait, there’s six people ahead of you in line. You go ‘it’s an electronic book? Why do I have to wait?’ It’s because the licensing is designed that way.”

“This was an example of the library community going directly to the publisher and making a deal that made a lot of sense for the both of them, and leaving the middle man out of it.”

Feser joined the Medicine Hat Public Library two months ago, and says he is so far enjoying the position.

“I’m really having fun,” he said. “It’s challenging, but also rewarding. I’ve gotten to meet Hatters and have started getting to know the community, and I’m really enjoying it.”

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