I remember visiting the Village Square Library at four years old; the first branch of the Calgary Public Library I had been to. Having recently moved to Calgary from Montreal, the fun scavenger hunts and interactive activities allowed me to play with other children and find my community in the city. My brother and I would listen attentively during storytime with the librarians and happily walk away with stickers given as prizes. 

We all have them. Places in the city that bring us joy, big and small. In an era of chaos, Calgary Journal editors are taking time this year to reflect on the public spots that bring us happiness and peace.
You can read the whole series here.

By the time I was six, I had learned to read and the library became the most magical place in the world. My new library of choice, Forest Lawn Library, became the most exciting prospect of every weekend. The books to choose from seemed endless, and I landed on the comically unrealistic goal to read every book in the world. I gained a great sense of power when getting to pick any novel to take home, and I even became inspired to write my own stories. 

Samreen Ahmed remembers visiting the Calgary Public Library since she was four years old. PHOTO: SAMREEN AHMED

Now a busy university student, it can be difficult to find a quiet place to study. My nearest library at Seton provides me a peaceful environment to do my schoolwork and there are many others who also take advantage of the calm. 

With 21 locations and free library cards available, Calgarians have access to all the incredible benefits that a branch can offer. Countless worlds which one can get lost in; accessible computers and printers; and a generous selection of films which felt especially luxurious in the years before Netflix and Disney Plus. 

There is always another story unread, and the unbridled joys of escapism that come with opening it.

From its welcoming interior to the fun summer reading challenges with prizes, this is the place that doesn’t discriminate financially or intellectually, allowing so many kids like myself to gain a love of literacy for a lifetime.

Ahmed now visits Seton Library. PHOTO: SAMREEN AHMED

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