Calgary Public Library
LocationCalgary, Alberta, Canada
Established1912 (1912)
Size2,332,581 (2012)
Access and use
Other information
DirectorSarah Meilleur

The Calgary Public Library (CPL) is a distributed library system featuring 21 branch locations including the Central Library.[1] As of 2012, it is the second most used system in Canada (after the Toronto Public Library)[2] and the sixth most used library system in North America.[3] This is despite the fact that the Calgary Public Library has one of the lowest per capita funding in the country, receiving as little as half the money of other Canadian public libraries. [4] [5] [6]


The Calgary Public Library Board of Trustees was established on May 18, 1908. R. B. Bennett, who would later serve as Prime Minister of Canada, was among the five people appointed to the board.[7] The first public library opened on January 2, 1912, thanks in part to the generosity of Scottish / American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.[8][9]

Memorial Park branch, 2008. The First World War memorial was erected in 1924 by the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire.

Carnegie funded $80,000 of the $100,000 cost of Calgary's Central Library, (now renamed the Memorial Park Branch), pressuring City Hall to fund the rest.[10]

The building was the first purpose-built public library in Alberta. It was designed by Boston architects McLean & Wright, and built out of local Paskapoo Sandstone (a soft stone that today presents a substantial preservation challenge). This library branch is a copy of a library in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

In 1929 the formal Victorian-style park surrounding the Central Library was dedicated to the honour of those who had died in the Great War. During construction of the original building, the Calgary Library Board sought out a librarian to oversee the opening of its new library. In January 1911, Alexander Calhoun, a thirty-one-year-old graduate of Queen's University, was appointed Calgary's Librarian. Calhoun served as the head of the Calgary Public Library until his retirement in 1945.[11][12]

When a new downtown central library was constructed in the early 1960s, the original branch was renamed the Memorial Park branch, and still operates today. An addition to the 1960s Central Library was built in 1974, doubling the size of the building.[13]

21st century

In 2013, CNOOC subsidiary Nexen donated 1.5M dollars to the Calgary Public Library. The company has secured the naming rights for high tech learning commons in the new Calgary Central Library. CNOOC CEO Li Fanrong reiterated the gesture was motivated by the company's corporate responsibilities to Calgary.[14] There have been concerns of censorship as CNOOC is a Chinese state run company, however McIntyre Royston library foundation head assures that the library's collection won't be censored.

Calgary Public Library, old logo
Logo used prior to rebranding in January 2015

The location of the new library is in the Downtown East Village (just across 3rd St. S.E. from the new City Hall).[15] On February 25, 2013, City Hall was approved the master plan to have the new library be built at the fore-mentioned location at Downtown East Village with the overall cost of C$245 million. The 286,000-square foot complex was completed on November 1, 2018.[16][17][18]

In 2019, the new library was recognized as one of "The Worlds 100 Greatest Places of 2019" by Time magazine.[19]

In 2019, Calgary opened Seton Library at the World's Largest YMCA (Brookfield Residential YMCA at Seton).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the library introduced expanded online services for patrons and provided health resources developed by 19 to Zero, a health communications initiative led by Alberta students.[20]


Southwest Community Libraries

Southeast Community Libraries

Northwest Community Libraries

Northeast Community Libraries

Former branches

Renamed branches



Calgary Public Library Facts (2012):[2]

See also


  1. ^ Zickefoose, Sherri (July 2, 2012). "Calgary library system defies Alberta trend of slowing patronage". Calgary Herald. Archived from the original on July 6, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  2. ^ a b "Calgary Public Library Report to the Community 2012 (page 33)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  3. ^ "Calgary's library system is 6th-busiest in North America". CBC. January 29, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  4. ^ "2012 Calgary Public Library Audited Financial Statements" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  5. ^ "Invest in the Next 100". Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  6. ^ "Cash Cow: User Fees in Alberta Public Libraries". Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  7. ^ Gorosh,E. Calgary's "Temple of Knowledge": A History of the Public Library. 1975 Century Calgary Publications. p.5.
  8. ^ "Carnegie Library, Calgary, Alberta". Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library. Calgary: Calgary Public Library. 2002-06-04. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  9. ^ Zickefoose, Sherri (June 1, 2012). "How a great city acquired a great library (Unlikely champions were ardent supporters of free books)". Calgary Herald. Archived from the original on June 4, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  10. ^ Gorosh, E. Calgary's 'Temple of Knowledge'. Calgary, Alberta: Century Calgary Publications, 1975. p. 6 Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Nicholson, Barbara; Lohnes, Donna (1987). "Alexander Calhoun". In Foran, Max; Jameson, Sheilagh S. (eds.). Citymakers: Calgarians after the frontier. Historical Society of Alberta; Chinook Country Chapter. pp. 149–172. ISBN 0-88925-725-6.
  12. ^ Ward, Rachel (30 March 2018). "How Calgary's 'revolutionary' first librarian shaped the city". CBC. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  13. ^ Gorosh, E. Calgary's 'Temple of Knowledge'. Calgary, Alberta: Century Calgary Publications, 1975. p.106 Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Markusoff, Jason (September 13, 2014). "Chinese state-owned CNOOC makes largest-ever donation to Calgary Public Library". Calgary Herald. Archived from the original on September 15, 2013.
  15. ^ "New central library - FAQ". Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  16. ^ "New Central Library Plan Takes Shape: The Master Plan". Calgary Herald. February 15, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
  17. ^ "New Central Library on its way to being realized". The City of Calgary Newsroom. February 25, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  18. ^ "New central library plan approved by council ($245-million project to be built in East Village next to city hall by 2018)". CBRT-DT (CBC News Calgary). February 26, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
  19. ^ "Calgary's Central Library earns some major recognition from Time". Calgary. 2019-08-22. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  20. ^ "COVID-19". Calgary Public Library. Archived from the original on 2022-10-21. Retrieved 2022-10-21.
  21. ^ Brennan, Brian (2012) The Calgary Public Library: Inspiring Life Stories Since 1912. Calgary: Calgary Public Library p. 63
  22. ^ "Report to the Community 2013" (PDF). Calgary Public Library. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 2, 2016. Retrieved August 14, 2022.