Connecting Libraries, Connecting People

The RISE Network works with public libraries to provide Albertans with opportunities to communicate with health care professionals, participate in distance education, attend meetings, learn new skills and more – all by videoconference from their local library. 

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 ...the potential for transforming public libraries, especially in rural areas, is enormous. This is a [network] that brings people together, strengthens our communities and creates another service niche for public libraries in Alberta.

— Michelle Toombs, Director Marigold Library System

Our History

In 2006 the directors of Chinook Arch, Marigold and Shortgrass Library Systems established the RISE Network as a direct response to the expressed needs of member libraries and to help enhance local services. As champions of excellent public library service, these systems serve more than 500,000 residents in three regions located in southern Alberta.  Each System assists its members through the provision of professional consultation, advocacy, IT support, network/Internet services, an integrated library system, acquisitions, cataloguing and processing services, and delivery services for all of their autonomous members.

By 2008, the Systems had raised the $5 million needed to pay for the project.  After a brief pilot stage involving six libraries from each System, TANDBERG videoconference equipment was installed in all 79 libraries with support from MTS Allstream.  The project provided each library with top of the line equipment and capacity grants to help increase open hours/staff time, as well as extra staff at the Library Systems to oversee the Network.  As a response to community needs and interests, consultant librarians continue to work closely with library staff to develop videoconference programming.  Consultant librarians and IT staff also manage bookings through a centralized system, bridge calls, monitor live sessions, maintain the RISE website and provide group and one-on-one training in both program design and equipment usage. It is through collaboration and cooperation with stakeholders throughout Alberta that the RISE Network has been successful.  The RISE Network has been able to provide cost-effective information services and programs accessible at the local community level, so that residents of rural communities do not have to drive long distances for continuing education, health care information, literacy programming, community and individual consultations. 

The RISE Network differs from online video calling services by providing a secure network, high definition quality and enabling multi-person connectivity. The Network has been used for a multitude of purposes including:
  • Innovative and interactive programming between resource libraries and libraries of all sizes (such as author visits, gardening workshops, virtual visits to museums and parks, etc.)
  • Training facilities for distance education students and life-long learners who benefit by having group interaction with instructors and other learners (many communities in these regions have no other facility for this purpose)
  • Virtual meeting room facilities for staff and clients of business, economic development, literacy and support-based organizations
  • Access to experts
  • Participation in job interviews and career development sessions
  • Access to government resources to enhance individual lives and to foster best practices for business, agriculture and education
  • Provision of training for local library staff to deliver enhanced information service in rural communities
  • Facilitation of meetings, presentations, and training between collaborating libraries throughout the province
Library patrons have successfully used videoconferencing for meetings, medical consultations, distance education, as well as personal growth and lifelong learning opportunities.  For example, the RISE Network facilitated a conversation between local farmers and the Agriculture Canada Research Station, allowing for the exchange of valuable information while saving time and money.  This is just one of many examples of information reaching communities that were - in the past – geographically out of reach. 
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RISE Network Brochure839.7 KB