100 Reasons to Love the new Central Library

100 Reasons to Love the new Central Library

February 9 marks 100 days since the opening of the new Central Library. To celebrate this milestone, read on for 100 features — in no particular order — that you can enjoy.

1. The Archway
The gorgeous outdoor archway that welcomes everyone into the Library is built with western redwood cedar. The wooden soffit’s design is inspired by the chinook arch cloud formations common to Calgary’s skies.

2. Shaikh Family Welcome Gallery
As you enter Central Library, you’ll find yourself in the Shaikh Family Welcome Gallery. The warm and beautiful gallery is the centre of the Library, bringing all the floors together.

3. A Space for Celebration
Opening Weekend celebrations at the Central Library attracted over 52,000 visitors in just four days, and at two months old, the new location played host to the City of Calgary’s New Year’s Eve bash. There has been so much to celebrate at Central in the first 100 days, and more festivities are always just around the corner.

4.  The BMO Financial Group Community Room
A free, bookable community space, the BMO Financial Group Community Room is a vibrant hub for the sharing of knowledge among Calgarians.

TRIO is the public art piece located outside of the building. Whimsical and colourful, the three moving pieces by artist Christian Moeller add a pop of fun to the landscape.

6. Outdoor Spaces
Central Library is lucky to be surrounded by outdoor spaces for all to enjoy. An outdoor gathering space and amphitheatre was designed to be a vibrant and welcoming place for outdoor activities in the warmer months.

7. Library Express
Conveniently located on the main floor, here’s the spot to pick up your holds, find popular new titles, and browse through books recommended by Library staff.

8. Laptop Bars
The Library experience has gone digital. Laptop bars overlooking the Shaikh Family Welcome Gallery offer patrons a stunning view as they check out Library materials online and work remotely.

9. More Charging Stations
You can browse for hours, thanks to the increase in power outlets scattered throughout the building. Keep your phone or laptop topped up and tap into the Library’s collection of Digital Resources during your visit, or on your way to your next destination.

10. Storied Location
The confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers is known to the Blackfoot as Moh’kinsstis. Before it was Fort Calgary — the birthplace of the modern city of Calgary — it was a gathering place for Indigenous peoples for thousands of years. Throughout Central Library, artwork and installations by Indigenous artists acknowledge this storied land and the narratives of the people who call it home.

11. Welcome Kiosks
You can book meeting rooms, see what’s happening at the Library on the day you’re visiting, and more when you use the Welcome Kiosks.

12. Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall
The Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall is a stunning space, with a warm wooden ceiling that’s mirrored on the walls by vertical slats. You’ll want to linger after the performance you’re watching is over just to enjoy the natural warmth of the space.

13. Michael Green Green Room
This is a place where speakers and performers can prepare prior to entering the Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall. It’s named in honour of Michael Green, a driving force and visionary for Calgary’s arts community.

14. Bow River Connection
CMLC, the master developer of the East Village and Central Library, is working on a streetscape improvement project for about five city blocks of 3rd Street SE. This project will connect Central Library with the beautiful Jack and Jean Leslie RiverWalk — an award-winning pathway with dedicated pedestrian and cycle lanes — and the Bow River.

15. Windows of Opportunity
Many people have left their mark on Central Library by purchasing group or personal windows and having a short message inscribed. Proceeds from the Windows of Opportunity campaign support the entire Calgary Public Library system.

16. Indigenous Placemaking
Permanent art by local Indigenous artists is placed in three areas throughout Central Library. The collaborative pieces reflect the vast cultures and communities in Treaty 7 territory.

17. Engineering Marvel
Did you know Central Library was built over top of the existing CTrain line? This unique foundation greatly influenced the building’s stunning design.

18. The Bookscalator
Return your books on the bookscalator, a giant escalator just for books! It allows titles to be transported to the Level 2 sorting room, plus it’s really fun to watch.

19. A Library For You
The input of 16,000 Calgarians, gathered during two years of public engagement, informed the spaces and programs in the Central Library. Over 52,000 people visited during Opening Weekend along, and since then, this location has seen over 500,000 patrons come through its doors.

20. New Programs
Calgary Public Library offers hundreds of in-person programs for everyone: babies, toddlers, preschoolers, families, kids, parents, teens, newcomers, small business owners, job seekers, and anyone looking for learning and enrichment. We’re working with new community partners to offer fresh programs at Central Library; watch our program guide Library Connect to learn what’s new.

21. Natural Light
Hello, natural light! The building’s outer shell is made of 465 hexagonal panels, allowing plentiful sunlight to cascade throughout the building.

22. High Ceilings
High ceilings coupled with expansive windows give a sense of openness throughout the five levels at the Library.

23. Stunning Interior Architecture
Wood slat walls and ceilings, endless windows, and intricate staircases are just a few of the striking interior features. You’ll have to visit to see it all!

24. Landscaping
A beautiful green space lush with flowers and plants will make for the perfect outdoor reading spot.

25. Indigenous Languages Resource Centre
The Indigenous Languages Resource Centre will help protect, preserve, and promote Indigenous culture, thanks to $1 million in funding from the Government of Alberta.

Gareth Lukes, the third-generation owner of Lukes Drug Mart, and Chef Eric Hendry, of the award-winning Calgary restaurant Bar Von Der Fels, come together to bring not one but two cafés to Central Library. In the new spaces, visitors can experience food with an emphasis on local ingredients and flavours.

27. Oculus Skylight
Look up! The beautiful oculus skylight allows plenty of natural light to enter the core of the building.

28. Shape of the Building
If it weren’t for the challenging site Central Library is located on — bisected by a curving LRT line — the building would likely look a lot different. But instead of a boxy building, the Central Library is shaped like a graceful ship, sailing into the future.

29. Short Story Dispenser
Find this magical machine near the interior LUKES cafe on Level 1, offering original stories by local authors at the push of a button.

30. Recommendations for Kids
Can’t decide what your little learner should read next? Visit the Questionarium to discover orange lockers full of books sorted by topic, like “Creatures,” or “Underwater.”

31. The Influencers
This display in Library Express features books recommended by influential people.

32. Early Learning Centre
Early Learning Centres are vibrant and interactive spaces designed for young children to learn through play. At Central Library, the focus is on full-body play, meaning plenty of space for kids to climb, crawl, explore, and imagine.

33. Reading Nooks
Amidst all the vibrant energy and excitement of Central Library, there are still quiet spaces too, like cozy reading nooks designed just for kids.

34. Features for Families
In addition to an Early Learning Centre, the new Library is home to a toddler nook, the Jocelyn Louise Anderson Children’s Library, and nursing room.

35. Moms’ Stairway
Named to honour all moms past, present, and future, the Moms’ Stairway connects the first-floor café with the Early Learning Centre. It’s a space to grab a coffee, sit on the steps, watch your kids play, and relax.

36. Nearby Amenities
Jack and Jean Leslie RiverWalk, St. Patrick’s Island, and Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, are all nearby. Spend a day in the East Village, an area undergoing an exciting transformation.

37. LEED Gold Certification
Central Library was built to be as sustainable as it is beautiful and functional. Designed to LEED gold certification, it meets a wide range of tough, specific criteria for green building practices.

38. Library Residency Programs
During the move to the Central Library, our Author in Residence program was joined by two more Residencies – Artist and Historian in Residence. Each of these in-house experts have their own office in the Central Library to offer hours for community workshops and discussion. The Residents also deliver free programming across the system during their stay at the Library.

39. A new Central Connection
The site where Central Library sits is a key connection between east and west downtown. Thanks to an open outdoor passageway, there’s a new visual and pedestrian connection between East Village and Calgary’s downtown!

40. New Books
Your to-read list just got a lot longer! When we moved from the previous Central Library to our new home, we added over 100,000 items to our collection, bringing the total up to 450,000 books.

41. More Computers
Between the Digital Commons and extra Chromebook lockers, the new Central Library has 100 more computers than the previous Central Library did.

42. Volunteer Lounge
Volunteers at Central Library have access to a volunteer lounge on the second level.

43. Terentiuk Space for Adult Learning
Adult learners have a special space in Central Library to attend courses and collaborate.

44. Collective Gaming Area
Gaming? In a Library? Yes, on Level 3 at Central Library, there’s a space just for this!

45. CNOOC North America Digital Commons
This technology-based collaborative environment is modeled on information commons and open design studios.

46. Idea Lab
The Idea Lab is getting bigger and better. Unleash your creativity and access tons of resources.

47. Audio Video Editing Suites
Are you the next big YouTube, IGTV, or podcast creator? Access Audio Recording, Video Recording, and Post-Production Studios — all for free.

48. FISH
Have you ever stared at a goldfish inside of a bowl? Well, now we’re in the bowl and the fish is staring back. FISH is artist Christian Moeller’s public art piece inside Central Library, made of nearly 11,000 custom books with spines in 12 different colours.

49. Staircases
Admit it, we’ve all imagined getting lost in winding staircases in large libraries. Well, your dreams will come true here. Beautiful wood staircases that climb up — toward the stunning skylight — are a defining feature in this building.

50. Teen Space
The Teen Space in the new Central Library is 2,100 square feet bigger than the one in the old Central Library. Featuring video game consoles, board games, the Teen Tech Lab, and a dedicated space for completing school work, this is the perfect after school or weekend hangout.

51. Career Services
Need help perfecting your cover letter? Looking to access career resources in Calgary? Central Library has an area dedicated to career services.

52. Services for Newcomers
There’s a new home for Services for Newcomers, on Level 3. Staff on this floor can help you with your resumé, learn a new language, or adjust to your new life in Canada.

53. Free Printing and Copying
Did you know that you receive $5 per month of free printing with your Library card? There are even more printers in Central Library!

54. Cenovus Campus Calgary Library School
At Library School supported by Cenovus Energy, students, their teacher, and parent volunteers use the Library and its five floors of stories as their classroom for a week of hands-on inquiry learning. Talk about a cool place to go to school!

55. Cenovus Classroom
There’s a dedicated classroom inside Central Library, just for Library School students and teachers.

56. Silent CTrain
Did you know that the CTrain runs under the Library, coming out on the north end and weaving its way into downtown? You can’t tell when you’re inside Central Library, thanks to some serious soundproofing.

57. Meeting Rooms
There are more than 30 free meeting rooms for Library members to book, ranging in capacity from four to 50 people. While most rooms can be booked up to two months in advance, some are reserved just for same-day bookings.

58. Instagrammable Spots
If you feel like your Instagram feed has been flooded with photos of the Central Library since opening day, there’s a good reason for it. From photos of the iconic stairwell to selfies using FISH as a backdrop, this space has no shortage of picture-perfect places to snap a great shot.

59. Rosza Arts at the Library
This new program at the Library supports emerging artists in the community.

60. The Prow
Each section of the prow of the building, overlooking 7 Avenue SE, is over 2,000 square feet. The top floor, with the best views, features a community living room.

61. Tried-and-True Features
Calgary Public Library is piloting new programs and services at libraries across the city, in anticipation of launching them at Central Library. This testing helps ensure all our libraries are imaginative and innovative spaces, while simultaneously giving us an opportunity to prepare for our newest building.

62. Quiet Reading Spaces
As you make your way up inside the building, you’ll notice the floors get quieter. You’ll easily find a peaceful spot to read a book, study, write, and more.

63. Gender Neutral Bathrooms
Central Library will have more bathrooms, including gender neutral bathrooms for everyone.

64. More Space
The new Central Library is 75,000 square feet bigger than the old Central Library.

65. Furniture
We’ve tested, piloted, and selected amazing furniture for every area of the building. You’ll find lounge chairs for reading, study seating with access to power, chairs of all sizes for children, café chairs, and more — all chosen with flexibility, durability, and accessibility in mind.

66. Plentiful Tables
There are 2,266 chairs and seats and 446 tables in Central Library, meaning plenty of space for you to read, study, collaborate and relax.

67. Flexible Spaces
Spaces in Central Library were designed to be flexible, with features including partition walls that can separate large rooms.

68. Williams & Harris Shared History Centre
This space comprises a story studio and vintage media lab, ensuring our city’s stories are collected and told.

69. All the Windows
The hexagonal panels that form Central Library’s outer shell give the building a distinctive exterior, plus amazing natural light and views inside.

70. Window Finish
The clear, glazed, or fritted finish of the glass panels is about more than just curb appeal. The panels were strategically placed to help prevent heat build-up inside. Triple-glazed glass reduces heat loss and solar gain, while also reducing the costs of cooling the building.

71. TD Great Reading Room
Are you looking for a quiet place to read and study? Head to the top level, where you can sit in pure reading bliss in the TD Great Reading Room. It’s the perfect spot for quiet study, contemplation, and reflection.

72. Elders’ Guidance Circle
During community consultations, Calgary Public Library heard about the need for a space to access elders in an urban setting. This room, featuring furniture and art by Indigenous artists, allows anyone to do just that. Come visit Indigenous Elders, prepared to share, listen, and learn.

73. Interfaith Room
This welcome space on Level 4 is intended for people to take a moment to meditate, refresh, and pray.

74. Simmons-Harvie Community Living Room
This prime spot on Level 4 is a place where you can read, study, and connect with others, all while taking in the extraordinary view.

75. Create Space
The Create Space is a place for community members to collaborate, expand their understanding, and engage in dialogue with others. The features inside change frequently, providing people with whimsical and playful experiences. Come create at Central Library!

76. The Millar Family Learning & Discovery Room
The name says it all — come learn and discover in this room on Level 2.

77. The Norrep Foundation Tech Connect Studio
Level 3 at Central Library is a hub for innovation and digital technology, especially in this studio space.

78. Arthur J.E. Child Foundation Business Library
New Central Library’s business Library and programs are named after Arthur J.E. Child, a Canadian businessman. Here, entrepreneurs can access resources, programs, and support.

79. Amazing Customer Service
Across the Library system, staff tested enhanced customer service processes in preparation for Central Library opening. Staff at Central Library can more easily interact with patrons where they are.

80. New Room Bookings System
You can book and access meeting rooms easily with your Library card. New devices outside rooms allow you to easily secure space for your next group study room, business meeting, or book club.

81. A Stronger Wireless Network
The new Central Library is home to approximately twice the number of wireless access points the previous Central Library had. This means the Library’s robust and well-used free wireless system can continue to meet demand.

82. Calgary’s Story, Presented by Walter and Irene DeBoni
This space on Level 4 celebrates our local history and brings it to life with engaging displays, and even a digital kiosk that explores archival images of Calgary.

83. Tipi
Previously housed at Fish Creek Library, a tipi featuring traditional Blackfoot designs now makes its home on Level 4 of the Central Library.

84. Strong Windows
The glass curtain wall of Central Library is both iconic and durable. The unique panels, fabricated by Calgary-based manufacturer Ferguson Corporation, underwent rigorous testing.

85. Time Capsule of Steel
Prior to the placement of the final steel beam within Central Library, nearly 700 Library lovers of all ages inscribed the 9,000-kilogram beam with messages of congratulations and inspiration for future generations. The mighty steel time capsule is now a permanent part of Central Library.

86. Proximity to Fabulous Restaurants
In addition to two cafés by LUKES, the East Village neighbourhood is bursting with great flavours. The nearby Simmons Building is home to Charbar, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters. The community is growing, and so is our appetite!

87. Colour
Expect playful pops of colour throughout the new building, from the furniture to the washroom tiles.

88. Podcast Live!
The Central Library is proud to host a series of leading podcasters in 2019 for our new event series, “Podcast Live!” These talks are designed to spark new ways of thinking by bringing eclectic voices to the Library, like the hosts of the popular “Invisible City” and “Radiolab” podcasts. It’s free to register for these talks with your Library card.

89. Tours
We can’t wait to show you around. Guided and self-guided tours of the Central Libray are available on a regular basis.

90. Morning Light
The golden hour takes on new meaning at Central Library. As morning light reflects off neighbouring City Hall, cascading through the west side of the building, the entire Library is awash with natural light.

91. Strong Floors
While a typical office building is engineered to support a live load of 4.8 kilopascals on its floors, the floors at Central Library are engineered to support a live load of 7.2 kilopascals. Why? Because of the anticipated weight of the books.

92. Functional Materials
At Central Library, it’s not just about aesthetics. Every material used has a specific function, like the western red cedar that defines the entrance. The wood is naturally resistant to decay, making it perfect for the exposed, outdoor archway.

93. Sustainable Materials
All wood used in Central Library is FSC Certified, meaning that is it harvested from sustainable, responsibly-managed forests.

94. Shelving
It’s all about the little details, right? The shelves in the new Library are functional, sturdy, and well-lit with built-in lighting, while still fitting into the aesthetic of the new space.

95. Ceramic Tiles
The shape of the Library’s outdoor walls is repeated inside, in the form of hexagonal tiles on the floor and walls of the bathrooms. Yes, we’re even excited about the bathrooms!

96. The Views
Every floor, window, and side of the landmark building offers a new view to be inspired by. Come visit us to see for yourself.

97. Proximity to the CTrain
Visiting Central Library is easy and convenient thanks to our location right next to City Hall station. That makes carrying home a bag of books much easier.

98. Candy Aisle Kiosk
When you’re picking up your holds at Central, be sure to check out the digital displays on the end of the aisles — staff have crafted lists of recommendations that you can pick up or place a future hold on.

99. Passing by the Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall
Travel along 3 Street SE and you’ll be able to glimpse into the Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall. When it’s not booked for large-scale events, seminars, conferences, or private bookings, the Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall will be animated with programs, to intrigue people passing by.

100. Free Memberships!
You’ll have access to all the above features at Central Library with your free Library card. Not yet a member? Register online or visit any Calgary Public Library location to get your free Library card today. See you at Central Library!


With photos from Michael Grimm, George Webber, Michael Grondin, and the Calgary Public Library.

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