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Celebration activities all week as Calgary’s Central Library turns five

It was just five years ago that Calgary’s Central Library opened, becoming not only an internationally-recognized landmark for architecture but a resource for Calgarians that has drawn millions of visitors.

The Calgary Public Library is celebrating the milestone birthday with planned activities throughout the week of Oct. 30 through Nov. 3, followed by a big birthday bash on Nov. 4.

And just like library cards in Calgary, all of the fun activities are free.

“I love the idea that people can visit our city, and we hear it from our tourism partners that people get a cab at the airport and the driver tells them all you got to check out the library. And I don’t think that always happens in cities where people say, ‘Oh, you got to check out that central library,'” said Mary Kapusta, Director of Communications and Engagement for Calgary Public Library.

“But it’s more than just this really incredible piece of architecture; certainly it’s been recognized that this building is busy—it gets used.”

Over the past five years, the Central Library has had 4.5 million visitors, with more than a million visitors to date in 2023. On top of those visits over the past half-decade, the library has seen its meeting rooms booked more than 76,000 times, and its computers used more than 730,000 times.

“There’s just like, this volume of service while also being a beautiful space, and I think that’s what we’re proud of. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s the central library our city deserves. But it’s also well used, and we’re always trying to improve upon it,” said Kapusta.

She said that this celebration week would also be a great time for Calgarians to get or renew their library card.

“Free library cards. I cannot say it enough. Free printing, free meeting rooms, free books, free movies: just come on down and visit any local library,” Kapusta said.

“There’s also lots of people that just come and kind of discover all the things are going on. So it’s a great reason to come down to Central Library if you haven’t been for a bit.”

Mayor Jyoti Gondek reads books to children at the Calgary Central Library as part of a week-long special event story times for the fifth anniversary of the Central Library on Tuesday, October 31, 2023. The story time was simulcast to schools across the city. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Fun to be had every day this week, but especially on Saturday

Leading up to the Nov. 4 party, the library will be holding special story times from Calgary’s Mayor Jyoti Gondek, Pet Access League Society, the Calgary Fire Department, and the National Music Centre.

A presentation of George Weber’s photographs about the development and construction of the Central Library will also be on display until Friday.

On Saturday, the library will be starting off the birthday party at 11 a.m., with opening ceremonies that include Indigenous drumming, a puppet story time, circus performances and hula-hooping workshops, library tours, and prize giveaways.

The evening concludes with an evening presentation by science communicator and PhD researcher Anthony Morgan, the new host of CBC’s The Nature of Things, entitled Pursuing Passions: The Road to The Nature of Things. Tickets for that event are also free.

“I think what’s kind of fun when our events team kind of gets to cut loose. It shows how much our staff loves the building, and also creating special experiences for our visitors,” said Kapusta.

“I think anytime you come to Central Library this week, during the day, you’re gonna stumble upon some pretty fun things.”

For more details, or to book tickets for any of the storytime events or Pursuing Passions, see calgarylibrary.ca/events-and-programs/upcoming-events/central-birthday.