Mission and History

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 cooperative network of equal and autonomous libraries offering public library service to 280,855 residents in south-central Alberta. Marigold celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2011. (PDF)

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.

The origin of the name “Marigold Library System” began when Gaye Ross was working in her garden. She observed that the marigold flower was bright, lively and practically indestructible — exactly what she hoped the proposed library system would become.
The vision to form a regional library system started in 1976.  Ross realized that, even though Drumheller was going to have a new library, there was no network in place to share resources and save money. She travelled to many public libraries in south-central Alberta to talk about a collaboration and she organized an establishment meeting in Drumheller on June 4, 1978, inviting all public libraries to send representatives. Soon after, a Steering Committee of Gaye Ross, Lucille Dougherty and Edith Helton was formed to organize campaigns and workshops and distribute advocacy materials to influence decision makers to support the formation of a library system. Throughout the entire establishment process from August 1980 to January 1981, members of the Steering Committee, Interim Board, Ministry responsible for public libraries, and Public Library Services Branch worked together until the goal was achieved.

Marigold Library System was established by agreement on January 1, 1981 with fifteen member libraries. The Interim Board met in Youngstown in March to become the official Board of Management of Marigold Library System. Bob Irvine (High River) was elected as Chair.
In May 1981, a consultant’s report recommended Strathmore as the most central and suitable location for the System headquarters.

The official opening of Marigold Library System was held at Strathmore on April 17, 1982.  Premier Peter Lougheed noted in his letter of congratulations 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.”

Thirty years later, Marigold Library System continues to be a forward-thinking organization and a champion of public library service throughout south-central Alberta. Collaborative, innovative, supportive and “bright, lively and practically indestructible” are all words that still define Marigold.

The vision of Marigold’s founders has been sustained by participating municipalities and strengthened by Marigold and member library staff and board members. Thank you to everyone involved in making the vision of a collaborative public library system a reality.