On Nov. 1, 2018, the new Calgary Central Library opened its doors to the public for the first time, capping off more than a decade of thorough planning and construction.

Unlike other public libraries around the city, the New Central Library presents a vision of a library that offers much more than a place to borrow books —as the official library’s vision puts it: a place “to inspire all.”. The $245 million library, located in the cultural hotspot of East Village in the downtown area, was envisioned in 2004 by Calgary City Council, with construction of the building having started in May 2014 with the encapsulation of the LRT line.

Aside from a massive collection of 450,000 books, the New Central Library offers itself as a space for creativity and productivity, with more than 30 community meeting areas, a performance hall, a centre for children’s learning, a multitude of spaces for visitors to work in throughout its four floors; there are even recording studios. Another important aspect that this library offers is its significant representation of Indigenous culture. Collaborations with Indigenous artists resulted in many exhibits of Indigenous art displayed around the library, capturing the spirit of the city.

The initial attendance rate of the library proved to be a popular and overwhelming success. According to a report heralded by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, the New Central Library’s opening weekend numbers soared with more than 50,000 visitors who stopped by the new library during its four day opening stretch. With more than 20,000 checked-out items, along with nearly 3,400 new members signed up, the New Central Library is beginning to warm up as it starts to position itself as a societal-gathering hub for generations to come.

BisonArtist Lionel Peyachew captures the spirit of Indigenous culture with the installation “Education is the New Buffalo” which encapsulates a “legacy of survival from the past to the present.”  Photo by Miguel Ibe.

Gathering Wall Painted by Roland Rollinmud, Keegan Starlight and Kalum Teke Dan, three paintings on display at the Welcome Gathering Wall highlight the past, present and the future of Indigenous teachings and cultures.  Photo by Miguel Ibe.

ShelvesA look at some of the 450,000 books on display for use in the library’s extensive collection. Photo by Miguel Ibe.

Lens Wall Miguel NEWThe massive arc-like wall outside the library not only offers itself as a popular spot for photo opportunities, but also adds to the unique look and shape of the building as well. Photo by Miguel Ibe.

IndigenousArtTwo images capturing the spirit of Indigenous culture, photographed by Blaire Russell, on display on the library’s fourth floor.  Photo by Miguel Ibe.

Editor: Huyana Cyprien | hcyprien@cjournal.ca

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