Calgary Central Library, Facts That May Surprise

Calgary Central Library, Facts That May Surprise
Calgary, Alberta, has a reputation. It is famous for its glorious seat at the base of the Rocky Mountains to its west, the 1988 Olympics, the Calgary Tower, the Stampede, the Flames and our Canadian Football League, Stampeders, and the flat plains leading to the east, opening up to the biggest, bluest sky in Canada. With an average of 333 days a year of sunshine, Calgary is the sunniest place in Canada. In Calgary, sitting at an elevation of 3428ft, it is possible to have an unobstructed 360-degree view. But this article isn't about any of those.

For many residents, the draw to Calgary lies within the lucrative job market. A proud oilfield sector, a thriving financial district and construction market, and the healthy entertainment industry imbue the city's cosmopolitan flair. And that tremendous small-town feeling, that it never lost even after growing up to inhabit 1.3 million Calgarians, defines the city. Yet, at the core of this city is more than just hard work.

Aside from outdoor adventures, the hardworking employment sector, the sports enthusiast contingent, their friendly demeanor, Calgarians are generous supporters and users of the Calgary Public Library.

Despite the city's relatively low population in comparison to its competition, it is the 6th busiest library system in North America. Outpaced only by three New York City libraries, Los Angeles, and Toronto, the Calgary library system flourishes. And it receives a fraction of the budget that its sister libraries in Canada receive.

In November 2018, Chris Hadfield dedicated the new Calgary Central Library in the downtown core to the public. The building's design is such an outstanding achievement that the American Institute of Architects bestowed it with the coveted Architecture Award in 2020, among many other, well-deserved accolades. It cost $245 million to build and was a joint effort by Snohetta, a Norwegian firm, and Dialog, its Canadian partner, after winning a design competition in 2013.

Despite its massive 240,000sq feet interior, encompassing four floors, it is a warm place, flooded with curving wood and stairways, filtered sunlight, and a humbling feeling of higher learning. There is something for every library member--it is free for Calgarians to join. Non-residents can purchase an annual membership for a mere $112 fee. Membership entitles a person to use the facility complete with free wifi, computer terminals, meeting rooms, dedicated children's areas, and books on every subject from romance to finance, sports to indigenous, health to design, reference manuals to fairy tales. The staff is helpful and friendly, and the library offers a plethora of free events and programs. It's difficult to choose just one.

In partnership with Gale Courses, the library offers its members over 300 quality educational programs, ranging from courses on finance to creative writing, to alternative health or computer training, law or design. These ed2go courses are free (two per year) and are 6-week instructor-led (professionals from their representative industry) certificate classes and invaluable to the learning community.

Aside from its stunning and functional design, the library is so much more. It is a place where people connect with knowledge and learning, fantasy and fact, and they form connections with real-life aspects. It’s the place to be.

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