But CPL still needs more

A budget of $245 million was approved for a new central library in East Village on Feb. 19th at the meeting of the Priorities and Finance Committee and its board members, but the approval came with questions about obtaining the remaining funds.

The City of Calgary attempted to build a new central library in the city’s downtown core in 2004, but the project failed due to an inability to choose an appropriate location.

According to a progress update document on the City of Calgary website, the Calgary Public Library, established in 1912, is currently undergoing growth pains as it learns to expand with the needs of the people, including more resources than it can currently offer.

Ellen Humphrey, interim CEO for the Calgary Public Library, said they want to “provide an edge of excellence for Calgary” by taking advantage of revenue streams.

Photo by Alyssa Fischer

The CPL is the second largest civic public library system in Canada.
The library’s collection, which currently spans 18 locations city wide, has more than 16 million materials including CDs, DVDs, and books borrowed each year.

The library also sees more than 5 million visitors annually.

It’s also seen as a central hub of activity with more visits than any other events or cultural locations in Calgary, according to the document.

What happens to the current library?

The space of the current Calgary library will most likely be replaced with a new building that will pay property tax to ensure the money can still go towards the new building, said Mayor Naheed Nenshi at the meeting.

“Our decision on the existing library needs to be a decision that results in some kind of commercial development downtown,” he said.

However, the problem of location was not the only issue that CPL dealt with in 2004. A lack of funding was associated with building a new central location.

The budget of $245 million is a big deal for everyone working on the project said the CPL board members, including interim CEO, Ellen Humphrey.

However, the budget only covers new construction costs and the transfer of all current books and resources from the old library. Any other funding, such as interactive activities and the design of areas to support these events is not supported.

“The library board is committed to taking advantage of all of the streams that we have access to, to supplement the budget and provide an edge of excellence for Calgary,” Humphrey said.

Ward 13 Ald. Colley-Urquhart questioned ways the library board members would be reaching for funds outside of the budget to add possible additional resources, such as new interactive learning areas and updated computer software.

“We are certainly actively looking at other ways in which we can raise money for this project from individuals and corporations in Calgary,” she said.

Construction of the new library will begin in 2014.

afischer@cjournal.ca
mbilton@cjournal.ca