By the Numbers

If you want to get a sense of how Calgarians have embraced their new library, take a look at the numbers from its opening weekend in November 2018.

52,223 Visits

20,843 Items checked out

3,397 New members

2,130 Computer sessions

628,441 Social media impressions

One of the largest civic projects undertaken in Calgary since it hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics, the city’s new Central Library is a glassy, swirling, sloping, $245-million space that reflects the community. Visitor access is through an arched entrance made of western red cedar, designed to resemble a Chinook arch cloud—a formation that rolls off the nearby Rocky Mountains.

Inside, works by Indigenous artists, including a mural by Keegan Starlight, Kalum Teke Dan and Roland Rollinmud, and a piece by Lionel Peyachew called Education is the New Buffalo—a life-sized bison comprised of words from Indigenous languages—promote an understanding of the history of the land, both past and present, from an Indigenous perspective.

Far from being a depository to store books, the space reflects the dynamic demands of today’s libraries. The facility is conceptualized as a community hub, complete with a performing arts space and areas for people to gather and collaborate, from a digital commons space and pod seating zones to a café. There’s a 12,000-square-foot children’s library with a climbing wall and a bouncy bridge, a gaming collection, a teen tech area, and, on the fourth floor, an opportunity to experience Calgary’s Story, a space where local history is accessible through books, newspaper archives and an interactive digital display. There is also a ton of books, of course—which are returned to the second-floor sorting room via a state-of-the-art “Bookscalator,” a computerized system that can ferry books of all shapes and sizes.

3 More Canadian Libraries to Visit

Toronto Reference Library, photo by JHVEPhoto

Toronto Reference Library

Canada’s largest public reference library has high-tech features such as a Digital Innovative Hub and Adobe Creative Cloud. There’s also a focus on community activities, from writers’ co-op meetings to robotics workshops.

Halifax Central Library

Inside this cubic structure—finished in 2014—it’s all clean lines and natural light. There are video game consoles, meeting rooms and an audio/visual media studio.

Morrin Centre, Quebec City

This library opened in its current building in 1868 and is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. It features a sweeping, wrap-around balcony, which evokes a historical, cinematic quality.

Read more: Discover stunning libraries in New York City and Dublin


[This story appears in the February 2019 issues of  WestJet Magazine.]