About Us

Northern Lights Library System (NLLS) believes that all citizens should have equitable access to library services.


Bringing the world to our communities by collaboratively providing efficient, effective, and exceptional library service.

What We Do

The Northern Lights Library System (NLLS) is one part of the seven regional library systems across Alberta, helping deliver comprehensive, efficient library services to all Albertans, regardless of where they live. Working together, NLLS libraries in northeast Alberta are able to accomplish more than any single library could alone. Our member libraries make their own decisions on building their collections, staffing, budgeting, and setting policies. But together, we offer:

  • Access to a combined inventory of materials and services for all patrons to enjoy
  • A gateway to global information services delivered locally
  • A strong and united voice in provincial library initiatives
  • System-wide back-end services so member libraries can concentrate on local customer service
  • The pooling of resources in order to maximize value and minimize costs
  • Support for member libraries to remain current in our ever-changing knowledge-based environment

Located in Elk Point, Northern Lights headquarters is operated by a team of library specialists who coordinate all NLLS functions and assist each member library in a variety of ways:

  • Consulting for services, facilities, technology & programs
  • Central ordering, cataloging & processing of library materials
  • Reference & information services
  • Delivery services
  • Union catalog of member library resources
  • Circulating block collections of talking books, large print & specialty theme collections
  • Continuing staff education & training
  • Membership in The Alberta Library (TAL) card program, providing privileges at other Alberta libraries

NLLS serves 57 municipalities, 49 libraries with a population of 177,940.

Seven First Nations and four Métis Settlements with a population of 15,616.

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Our History

Flags Flying in front of NLLS HQ

In 1985, following three successful years of cooperation among the five libraries serving the M.D. of Bonnyville area, the Northeast Library Steering Committee was formed to investigate the feasibility of establishing a cooperative library system in the region. It was the belief of the Committee that by working together, public libraries in eastern Alberta could better use their material and human resources. Thanks to several years of effort and active lobbying on the part of volunteers and project staff, the Northern Lights Library System was established in April 1990, with provincial operating grants made available the next year.



As outlined in the original plan of services, the new System worked to:

  • Increase collection size at member libraries
  • Provide centralized purchasing and processing of library materials
  • Establish a contract with Lloydminster Public Library for assistance with reference and interlibrary loan requests

This contract ended in December 1999, and a reference contract is currently in place with Yellowhead Regional Library System. With the receipt of provincial funding the system then focused on:

  • The purchase and renovation of a building in Elk Point to house System Headquarters
  • Full automation for System Headquarters and member libraries
  • An official grand opening in September 1992

From 1992-1998, NLLS maintained a steady membership of 14 municipalities and their libraries. With the development of provincial initiatives on resource sharing, such as The Alberta Library (TAL), and electronic networking, through Alberta Public Library Electronic Network( APLEN), system membership rapidly increased. By the end of 2001, there were 46 member municipalities in NLLS, representing 38 member libraries at 40 sites, and attention was turned to new priorities:

  • Headquarters moved to the current location in Elk Point, (formerly owned by Pan Canadian), in December 2001
  • Partnered with Marigold and Yellowhead Regional to form The Regional Automation Consortium (TRAC)
  • Worked with TRAC to provide an integrated, automated library system and catalog for all member libraries

The TRAC online catalog, known as TRACPac, contains bibliographic holdings of more than 2 million items and some 132,000 patrons. In December 2003, the Peace Library System joined TRAC, adding its holdings and patrons to the database in May 2004.

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