The Calgary Public Library is marking their milestone of more than a century of service to Calgarians with months of activities, programs, and performances.
CPL is launching their commemoration on Oct. 15, with Love Your Library Day at all 21 library locations across the city.
Sarah Meilleur, CEO for Calgary Public Library, said that this was really going to be a celebration for all Calgarians, and the community connections that the library helps foster.
“Calgary public library to be celebrating 110 years, it really speaks to the the critical role that libraries play in this community, and that continued relevance,” she said.
“The way libraries continue to see community needs, and respond to them as they evolve over 110 years, is quite impressive for an institution.”
Beginning at 10:30 a.m. and running through to 12:30 p.m., various library locations will be hosting activities like face painting, temporary tattoos, balloon art, juggling, rola bola and magician performances, and even a Dr. Seuss Aerial Show.
A special library-system-wide Family Storytime will be held at all the library locations at 1 pm.
And starting at 2:15 pm, live music will be performed each of the libraries by musicians including Caitlin Goulet, Natalia Chai, Sidney May Weich, MEEKS, and Elle McAndrews.
“Love Your Library day is just a day of celebration. It’s a celebration of our history, but it’s also a way for us to thank the community for their continued support,” said Meilleur.
Following Love Your Library Day, CPL will be holding 10-weeks of additional special programming and giveaways.
The full list of activities and locations— as not all libraries will have having the same ones—can be found at calgarylibrary.ca/events-and-programs/upcoming-events/.
History of relevance to Calgarians
Meilleur said that the library has continued to play a critical role in civic and community life for Calgarians.
“Library is public space. Library is that place for the community to gather to connect with one another,” she said.
“There’s not very many other places, there’s no other places in community, that are so open and welcoming and that space where everyone belongs, and so that’s such an important key role that we play.”
She said that libraries are one of the few places that are primarily non-commercial in nature, where Calgarians are not pressured to spend money to also spend time.
“Having 21 locations around the city makes a difference, and we’re in every community, in every neighbourhood,” she said.
“And as we think about the future, we see as the population in this city grows, we need to continue to grow with it. So building more libraries is absolutely a priority for us.”
CPL has over 745,000 active members, representing 56 per cent of Calgarians.
And in a typical year, the library will do 19,000 programs for patrons and visitors.
“One of the things that we do so well when it comes to programming, is serving so many folks from across all sorts of spectrums, and ages, and stages of life,” Meilleur said.
“Things like our baby runtime programs, things like technology support for seniors and anyone that needs some help with technology, and then gathering together with our English conversation groups, and our mental health and wellness support with our community wellness desk—I think there’s something at the library for everyone.”
She said that as an organization they have a lot of fun doing diverse programming, and that they hope the anniversary celebration events will highlight aspects for Calgarians who aren’t aware of everything the library does.
“I think sometimes people have a perspective of the library, and they might use one aspect of the library, but this really is an opportunity to celebrate the breadth and the depth of all the different ways in which we serve the community,” Meilleur said.
Strategic plan for the future coming up next month
The Calgary Public Library will be releasing it’s 2023-2026 strategic plan on Nov. 7.
Meilleur said that this would be an evolution for the library system, based on what it has learned from the past 110 years.
“We’ve learned a lot about how we can serve the community in the best possible way, and Calgary Public Library really is an international leader when it comes to libraries,” she said.
“That’s because of the transformational nature of our new Central Library, but what we’ve learned from that and taken to all of our community libraries as well.”
The strategic plan will provide a roadmap for the future of CPL, and for the way they will be responding to community needs in the future, she said.
“Some of those community needs that have shifted, particularly over the last couple of years of disruption,” Meilleur said.
“Libraries are those critical, resilient centres. We help people connect with one another, we also help make sure that everyone is welcome at the library and feels like they belong, and that’s an incredibly important thing that we need to consider as a city.
“There’s some big challenging problems in our society today, and the library’s there to help people learn more, to utilize our programs and our resources, and to help solve some of those problems and also to help individuals really realize their potential.”
She said that the library would remain committed to providing information and resources for Calgarians.
“It’s about encouraging informed discussions and diverse opinions, and about continuing to prioritize learning in our community,” she said.
“One of our values is curiosity; and it’s always wanting to ask questions and and learn more about things. I think that’s so important to set us up for the future, to be able to manage and handle it, and come up with solutions with that sort of hopeful, optimistic perspective for some of the big challenges our community is facing.”