www.iamcalgary.ca I Am Calgary New Central Public Library

Putting the “Public” back into “Public Library”

A focus on the City of Calgary’s Public Library Rejuvenation Projects

If you get the opportunity to visit Calgary’s new Central Library you’ll soon dispel any of those dated, stereotypical notions that libraries, themselves, should be archived!  The Calgary Public Library is doing a phenomenal job to reinvent itself and attract the public interest.  You need only to have visited some of their +/- 21 city-wide locations in recent years to see the efforts they’ve made to continue to engage with the public.  Gone are the days when your library visit was a chore that was executed in hushed-silence. In fact, these days you don’t even require a library membership card to enter some of the facilities and access their resources! The doors to these places of curiosity and collections have been flung wide open for all to enter and enjoy.

The distinctive Calgary Public Library logo

The evolution of the historically muted, somber library experience into the multi-use lifestyle “villages” we’re seeing today is testimony to the hunger in our communities and lifestyles to engage in people interactions and relationship.  Consider the open plan library facility housed in the striking Shane Homes YMCA facility in Rocky Ridge in the Northwest. With a multi-lane athletics track that overlooks the book shelves, to the open-plan view of the spacious swimming pool facilities, this is hardly a reclusive, stodgy space for silent contemplation but rather a working area that fosters lingering learning and engagement with humanity.  You can navigate to this location here.

It seems that this model has worked particularly well given that the newly opened Seton YMCA, the largest of its kind in North America, is home to Calgary’s newest public library. Sporting a full-sized helicopter within the structure, donated courtesy of the Hangar Flight Museum, children are given the opportunity to read, learn and engage in a very unique space.  Navigate to this location here.

Although membership to the Calgary Public Library system is still required – as any reasonable service would necessitate in order to track its users and assets – the benefits and services offered are very worthwhile.  Some of these include:

  • Borrowing books, movies and music.  Follow these links to explore the books, e-books, movies and music materials available. If your requested book is available at another library in the city, free inter-library transfer services will have your request fulfilled and delivered to your local library just as soon as it becomes available.
  • E-Library. This offering opens a vast vault of reference and reading resource available to you on-line.  Follow this link for more information.
  • Programs. Your community library may offer a significant selection of empowerment, self-help and education lessons.  Explore more using this link and use the filters to explore the options offered by your local library. Topics range from babies to birds, immigration sponsorship requirements to Canadian Newcomer Benefits, and learning you’re A-B-C’s to Zoology.
  • Services.  A range of services are offered through the Library that grant you access to technology (e.g. use of computers, Chromebooks, free printing), career and business information, loaning musical instruments, settlement services and other areas.

There has been significant media hype surrounding the November 2018 opening of the new Central Library in Calgary’s East Village. This architecturally-appealing edifice is a 21st Century monument to the commitment that the City of Calgary has made towards equipping and empowering Calgarians with access to information and resources.  It has created a meeting place for Calgarians from diverse walks of life to build community and relationships.  Look out for I Am Calgary’s upcoming blog overviewing insights into this newest world class resource, city icon and tourist attraction.  Navigate to this location here.

www.iamcalgary.ca I Am Calgary New Central Public Library


  • Cathy Norrie

    18 January, 2019

    Hi Derek!

    It was great to meet you on our Architecture Tour at the library last Tuesday. I hope you and your family enjoy spending lots of time there.

    All the best,
    Cathy Norrie (tour guide)


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