Calgary Public Library

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Calgary Public Library
File:Calgary Public Library logo.jpg
Country Canada
Established 1912 (1912)
Location Calgary, Alberta
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Branches 18
Size 2,332,581 (2012)
Access and use
Circulation 17,121,718
Other information
Director Bill Ptacek

The Calgary Public Library (CPL) is a distributed library system featuring 18 branch locations including the Central Library.[1] It is the second most used system in Canada (after the Toronto Public Library)[2] and the sixth most used library system in North America.[3] This is despite the fact that the Calgary Public Library has one of the lowest per capita funding in the country, receiving as little as half the money of other Canadian public libraries. [4] [5] [6]


The Calgary Public Library Board of Trustees was established on May 18, 1908. R. B. Bennett, who would later serve as Prime Minister of Canada, was among the five people appointed to the board.[7] The first public library opened on January 2, 1912, thanks in part to the generosity of Scottish / American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.[8][9]

Memorial Park Branch, photographed in 2008. The First World War memorial was erected in 1924 by the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire.

Carnegie funded $80,000 of the $100,000 cost of Calgary’s Central Library, (now renamed the Memorial Park Branch), pressuring City Hall to fund the rest.[10]

The building was the first purpose-built public library in Alberta. It was designed by Boston architects McLean & Wright, and built out of local Paskapoo Sandstone (a soft stone that today presents a substantial preservation challenge). This library branch is a copy of a library in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

In 1929 the formal Victorian-style park surrounding the Central Library was dedicated to the honour of those who had died in the Great War. During construction of the original building, the Calgary Library Board sought out a librarian to oversee the opening of its new library. In January 1911, Alexander Calhoun, a thirty-one-year-old graduate of Queen's University, was appointed Calgary's Librarian. Calhoun served as the head of the Calgary Public Library until his retirement in 1945.[11]

When a new downtown central library was constructed in the early 1960s, the original branch was renamed the Memorial Park branch, and still operates today. An addition to the 1960s Central Library was built in 1974, doubling the size of the building.[12]


  • Information and reference services
  • Access to full text databases
  • Community information
  • Internet access
  • Reader's advisory services
  • Programs for children, youth and adults
  • Delivery to home-bound individuals
  • Inter-library loan
  • Free downloadable audiobooks


Calgary Public Library Facts (2012):[2]

  • Annual circulation: 17,121,718 (including renewals)
  • Number of items in collection: 2,195,354
  • Total number of books to choose from: 1,689,315
  • Total number of e-books to choose from: 509,015
  • Total number of music items to choose from: 87,648
  • Total number of Blu-rays/DVDs to choose from: 188,005
  • Percentage of households that utilize the Calgary Public Library: 66%
  • Number of Calgarians who hold a library card: 393,430
  • 100th anniversary

File:Calgary Public Library logo.png
Logo used before January 2015

The new Calgary Public Library Logo was revealed in January 2015 as part of their rebranding plan.

New Central Library

Today, the current Central Library building is considered too small to meet the needs of Calgary's population and lacks the infrastructure to support new technology. Preliminary planning and public consultation for a new central library have been completed, and the project is expected to cost between C$225 million and C$250 million. City Hall has allocated C$175 million to the project.

In 2013, CNOOC subsidiary Nexen donated 1.5M dollars to the Calgary Public Library. The company has secured the naming rights for high tech learning commons of the New Central Library. CNOOC CEO Li Fanrong reiterated the gesture was motivated by the company's corporate responsibilities to Calgary.[13] There have been concerns of censorship as CNOOC is a Chinese state run company, however McIntyre Royston library foundation head assures that the library's collection won't be censored.

The location of the new library will be in the Downtown East Village (just across 3rd St. S.E. from the new City Hall).[14] On February 25, 2013, City Hall has approved the master plan to have the new library be built at the forementioned location at Downtown East Village at the overall cost of C$245 million. The planned 286,000-square foot complex is slated to be completed by 2018.[15][16][17]

See also


  1. Zickefoose, Sherri (July 2, 2012). "Calgary library system defies Alberta trend of slowing patronage". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2012-09-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Calgary Public Library Report to the Community 2012 (page 33)" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Potkins, Meghan (January 27, 2012). "Calgary Public Library sets new borrowing record (Becomes sixth busiest library system in North America)". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2012-01-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "2012 Calgary Public Library Audited Financial Statements" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Invest in the Next 100". Retrieved 2013-11-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Cash Cow: User Fees in Alberta Public Libraries". Retrieved 2013-11-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Gorosh,E. Calgary's "Temple of Knowledge": A History of the Public Library. 1975 Century Calgary Publications. p.5.
  8. "Carnegie Library, Calgary, Alberta". Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library. Calgary: Calgary Public Library. 2002-06-04. Retrieved 2010-07-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Zickefoose, Sherri (June 1, 2012). "How a great city acquired a great library (Unlikely champions were ardent supporters of free books)". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2012-06-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Gorosh, E. Calgary's 'Temple of Knowledge'. Calgary, Alberta: Century Calgary Publications, 1975. p. 6
  11. Nicholson, Barbara and Donna Lohnes: Alexander Calhoun: The Cornerstone of Calgary's "Temple of Knowledge"
    Citymakers: Calgarians after the Frontier. Max Foran, Shellagh Jameson (ed.). The Historical Society of Alberta, Chinook Country Chapter, 1987. p.152-153
  12. Gorosh, E. Calgary's 'Temple of Knowledge'. Calgary, Alberta: Century Calgary Publications, 1975. p.106
  13. Markusoff, Jason.'Chinese state-owned CNOOC makes largest-ever donation to Calgary Public Library'.September 13, 2014, Calgary Herald. retrieved October 30, 2014.
  14. "New central library - FAQ". Retrieved 2013-11-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "New Central Library Plan Takes Shape: The Master Plan". Calgary Herald. February 15, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Council Approves Plans For New Central Library". Calgary Herald. February 25, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "New central library plan approved by council ($245-million project to be built in East Village next to city hall by 2018)". CBRT-DT (CBC News Calgary). February 26, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links