EDMONTON -- While many services saw cuts under the recently released provincial budged, library funding in Alberta will stay the same. The government will invest $37 million in public libraries this year.

“Our libraries are vital community and learning hubs that support local programs while bringing families and neighbours together. Libraries are essential to our strong quality of life in Alberta and I am proud to support them,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu in a written release.

$31 million in funding will go to library boards, while the other $6 million will go to network support.

The government says Alberta spends more on libraries than any other province with similar library delivery structures.

Madu says he has a personal passion for libraries.

“I was born and raised in rural southeast Nigeria on a farm. When I was born there were no libraries at all, we didn’t even have electricity,” he told media on Friday.

“I was the first in my family to obtain higher education.”

Madu now has children of his own. He says the library is an important resource for his family.

“Funding libraries should not be a partisan issue, it’s something people rely on, it’s an essential service.”

There are 322 libraries in Alberta, and the government estimates 1.4 million Albertans have a library card.