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December 10, 2018: Field trip to Calgary's New Central Library, with Ellen Humphrey     New Central Library Project Website

  • Calgary's New Central Libary exterior

Today's meeting was a trip to Calgary's New Central Libary.

President-elect Gerry Meek has served in many capacities within the senior leadership of the Calgary Library and was instrumental in planning the new library prior to his retirement a few of years ago. The former building was constructed in 1963, which was outgrown within two years. It was renovated in 1970, and was again not big enough for the growing population. It was too inefficient and very expensive to maintain. Planning for the new building was started in 1980, with many reports/recommendations provided. Mayor Bronconnier got the ball rolling under his tenure by allocating $40 million towards the estimated $250 million.

About this time in the agenda, our guest speaker arrived and Gerry provided the introduction to Ellen Humphrey, whom he has known as a colleague for the past three decades.

Ellen Humphrey completed her undergraduate, graduate, and library education at the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta, and has worked in both academic and public libraries. As a long-term Calgary Public Library employee, she has held a number of positions in public services and administration. At the request of the library board, she assumed responsibility for oversight of the Calgary Public Library system as interim chief executive officer in September, 2012. Before her retirement, and in the position of Deputy Chief Executive Officer, her portfolio included external relations, partnership development, volunteer resources and board relations.

She joined the Calgary Public Library Foundation in September, 2017, relishing the opportunity to remain connected to and supportive of the aspirations and values of Calgary's public library system.

The New Central Library opened in November, 2018.

  • Calgary's New Central Libary interior
  • The City of Calgary had been planning for a new Central Library since 2004, when it first devoted funds to study future library needs.
  • Throughout 2012, more than 16,000 Calgarians participated in an extensive public engagement program to provide input into the function of the New Central Library and the role of the Library within the community.
  • The building’s architects are Snøhetta, an international firm, and Calgary’s DIALOG, while CMLC leads the construction.
  • The 240,000 square foot building has five levels that contain about 600,000 items.
  • Construction began in 2014 with a real feat of engineering: encapsulating the LRT. It was the first time in Calgary’s history an active LRT line was encapsulated and used as a foundation for a building above.
  • A webcam kept track of every construction step by capturing a photo every 10 minutes.
  • The final steel beam of New Central Library’s skeletal structure serves a dual-purpose; it’s a time capsule of steel. In March 2017, nearly 700 library lovers of all ages inscribed the massive beam with messages of congratulations and inspiration for future generations.
  • New Central Library is a fully-funded $245 million project, paid for by the City ($175 million) and CMLC ($70 million). The Calgary Public Library Foundation’s Add-In Campaign allows donors to enhance collections, programs, and services across the entire Library system. It’s becoming a philanthropic cause with over $47 million donated from private funds. The latest amount was $5MM from Conrad Whalen in memory of his mother, Patricia Whalen. While this is the largest donation, the majority of funds raised have been from “ordinary” citizens.
  • Currently there are 680,000 card holders with a goal to reach 800,000 by year end.
  • Another goal is to have the “book truck” visit every Daycare/Day home so that our young can know the importance of reading.

Gerry Meek expressed the thanks of the club. [Editor's Note: Gerry will present a Boltman to Ellen at a later date.] An informative tour of the facilities was provided by four highly qualified volunteer guides.

Kudos to Bill Tapuska for arranging another outstanding speaker, and tour of the new library.

  • Ellen Humphrey and Gerry Meek Ellen Humphrey and Gerry Meek

reported by Mike Carlin

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