Central Library

Building Accessibility

From sloped walkways and street-level entry on the west side, to an elevator on the east side, the Library is accessible for all.

The outside east elevator is staffed by intercom and available 24 hours a day, allowing for easy passage through the archway, connecting people between East Village and City Hall. On the west side, there is an intercom at the doors near the Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall. Visitors with mobility challenges can use this intercom to contact security in order to use these doors. Or, continue up the sloped walkway to reach the main entrance.

Once inside, there are elevators, sloped walkways, and stairways for visitors to move throughout the building. Elevators have braille buttons and an audible elevator signal, and stairs have tactile indicators on the railings, and on the floor at the top of the flight.


Listening Assistance systems

Inside Central Library, a Listening Assistance system is available to help you enjoy performances, lectures, and tours. This system uses technology to communicate with Bluetooth-linked hearing aids.

Designing with Accessibility in Mind

At all our 21 libraries across the city, including Central Library, we are committed to creating a welcoming and safe community space for everyone.

People using wheelchairs or with mobility challenges are encouraged to enter Central Library through the east side, off 8 Avenue SE. There is a Calgary Parking Authority parking lot behind the Library with accessible and family stalls. There is a public exterior elevator, accessible 24/7, located across from this lot that will bring you to the entrance of the Library. If you are using this Library outside of our hours of operation, please use the intercom.

On the west side of the building, you will find a gradual sloped walkway. From an access point of view, the Central Library project had the unique challenge of building over the LRT tracks and tunnel. This meant the main entry would be elevated above grade, necessitating the sloped walkway. The sloped walkway will be maintained through inclement weather and the Library’s facility team will ensure it is safe through the winter season.

The sloped walkway was reviewed at length during the design stage and during construction to ensure it was compliant with the Alberta Building Code for accessibility. The City of Calgary Accessibility Committee reviewed the options for access during the design phase and approved of the final design for a sloped surface on the west and an accessible elevator on the east.

Other Accessibility Features

In addition to the sloped walkway and exterior elevator, other features include curb cuts and access ramps in the sidewalk at all pedestrian crosswalks. These curb cuts and ramps meet the newest wider width dimensions recommended by the City of Calgary. All access ramps in the sidewalks include a tactile surface and colour differentiation to alert those with vision impairments to recognize that they are nearing the crosswalk in the street.

Inside the building, elevators are provided for access to all floors, and a sloped interior walkway connects Level 1 and 2. Please note we are working with our contractors to refine the timing of our elevators.

Designated seating areas are provided at the top and bottom of the raked seating within the Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall. Service points feature accessible table height options and there are also adjustable table height public seating options. All stairs have tactile buttons in the floor to alert patrons to the proximity of the stairs.

All Gendered and Everyone washrooms meet Alberta Building Code standards, inclusive of mounting heights for accessories, knee room clearance, and reach depths at the vanities, and clear room within accessible toilet stalls. Individual family washrooms, also designed to be accessible, are available in addition to the larger public washrooms.

The Design Process

The Central Library project team designed the building with accessibility in mind. In 2014, during the design phase, DIALOG and Snøhetta developed a design aimed to comply with relevant accessibility guidelines. This included the Universal Design Handbook (Dated 2010) and the Alberta Barrier Free Design Guide (2008).

The design was submitted in 2014 for review to The Advisory Committee on Accessibility at the City of Calgary at the completion of the Concept Design, Schematic Design, and the Design Development stages. During this time, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) worked in collaboration with The Advisory Committee on Accessibility to ensure the project was meeting established standards of care in terms of public accessibility.

In August 2017, CMLC reached out to a third-party Accessibility Consultant to review the design. The consultant identified design guideline changes made in 2015 after construction commenced as well as potential guideline changes that could be expected to come in the next decade, such as bariatric initiatives.

In October 2017, CMLC reached out to The Advisory Committee on Accessibility at The City of Calgary again to provide building walkthroughs. Numerous site walkthroughs took place with an Access Planner with Safety Codes through the City of Calgary. This planner provided positive feedback and generally accepted the accessible conditions as meeting the intent of the standards established in all accessibility codes and guidelines.

Photos by Michael Grimm