An Open Book: New Central Library

The New Central Library (NCL) is already attracting attention from far and wide.The stunning architectural design – intrinsically based upon the encapsulation of the LRT – is an industry coup in itself. The building will undoubtedly stand as a tes-tament and a source of local pride to the city, becoming another landmark architectural icon. But it will also be more than just a symbol; it will be a living, breathing space designed to bridge communities in both a physical and emotional sense – one that, most important perhaps, will be accessible by one and all. 

Library lore Today’s libraries have evolved into so much more beyond being just a warehouse for books and other resources. In a leadership brief entitled, Building Connected Communities, the Urban Libraries Council describes the potential of these civic institutions: “The pace of change and its immediate impact on daily life and economic success make the role of public libraries as trusted guides in a rapidly chang-ing world increasingly vital. Every day, libraries offer programs, services, and resources that introduce the possibilities of technology, build digital literacy skills, and provide access for all.” Libraries are also economic drivers. A 2013 study by the Martin Prosperity Institute found that the Toronto Public Library delivers $5.63 of economic impact for every $1 spent. But, at its very heart, libraries help shape communities. “Library structures in downtown North America are used as a point of pride for North American communities,” says Bill Ptacek, chief executive officer, Calgary Public Library. “But, I think one of the things that public libraries can do better than any other in-stitution is bring together people from all different walks of life.” Ptacek acknowledges that libraries contribute to the overall literacy of the community and thus, have a real economic impact. But they are so much more than just that. Libraries are peoples university,” he says. “We are the information broker for the community. Libraries are a benefit to everyone in the community and an investment in the future.” Community access Of course, the NCL will be a stunning piece of architectural ingenuity.

Now in 2018 , is the completion of the building’s interior spaces, which includes installing flooring and shelving, con-structing 40+ meeting rooms, and selecting furniture and audio-visual equipment. On the slate for 2018 is the com-pletion of the interior construction and finishings (once this is done, the Calgary Public Library will be able to move in); and the soft landscaping, which includes all the exterior, as well as the trees and planters surrounding the building. To date, the official grand opening remains Q42018. “Our objective all along has been to deliver a high-quality design and a high-quality project that’s on time and on budget,” says Thompson. “Of course, how we built the team and how we’ve been dealing with the project is the really interesting part of the story. In the end, however, what we’d like to see is an inspirational gathering space for Calgarians to use for generations.” Ptacek would be the first to agree that the NCL will become an important part of the fabric of Calgary. “I think the NCL will be the embodiment of our mission statement, which is Potentials Realized,” he concludes. “I think Potentials Realized reflects the NCL building, the people who work there, the people who use it, and the communities served.” 



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