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Calgary Central Library – 34 Amazing Facts!

Apr 28, 2023  
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For book lovers in Calgary, the Calgary Central Library is a well-known and respected institution. Even if you’re new to the city or have only recently developed a passion for literature, it’s an experience not to be missed. The library is truly extraordinary, and a visit is a must-do for anyone who appreciates books and their impact on society.

Unlike typical public libraries with old buildings and dusty shelves, the Calgary Central Library boasts a modern and innovative design that sets it apart. But it’s not just the building’s unique and attractive appearance that draws visitors in.

Whether you’re an architectural enthusiast or simply someone who loves to explore public libraries, the Calgary Central Library is a must-visit destination.
Here are some Amazing Facts about the Library:

1. It was established by the Prime Minister

Although it appears to be a modern marvel of the 21st century, the Calgary Central Library has a much longer history than one might think. Its origins can be traced back to approximately 1908, when it was established by the Prime Minister of Canada.

At the time, however, it wasn’t envisioned as the impressive library we know today. The library was established by R.B. Bennett as the Board of Trustees, and it began operating as the first public library in Alberta in 1912.

2. The main building of the Calgary Central Library was modeled after a library located in Massachusetts.

With the support of Andrew Carnegie, a prominent businessman who made a significant donation to the library, the Calgary Central Library was constructed using stunning sandstone that was sourced locally in the city. Interestingly, the design of the main building is actually a replica of another library located in Massachusetts.

3. The Calgary Central Library is part of a well-established library system that has been in existence since the 1960s.

The Calgary Central Library is part of a library system that has been present in the city since the 1960s, and it now serves as its flagship branch. This new and futuristic library replaced the previous branch in 2018, and it continues to adhere to the library’s mission of catering to a spectrum of interests ranging from “fun” to “serious”.

The library’s unique design features a curved surface that guides visitors upward through the building. As they ascend, they’ll notice that the busier and more public events are located on the lower floors, while quieter study areas can be found on the upper levels.

4. The planning phase for the replacement of the old library began in 2004.

The process of overhauling and replacing the existing old library began in 2004 with the initial planning phase. It took several years of research to find a suitable location for the new library, and several options in Calgary were considered before the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation finalized the land adjacent to the municipal building in 2011.

5. The total cost of constructing the new library was $245 million.

Once the land was finalized, the funding for the construction of the new library was secured from three different sources, with a total budget of $245 million.

6. The design for the new library was selected through a competition .

To finalize the design for the new library, a competition was held in Calgary in 2013, and two companies emerged as winners: Snøhetta, an international architecture firm, and DIALOG, a Canadian architecture firm.

7. The Calgary Central Library is built over a massive area of 75,000 square feet

Spanning across an impressive area of 75,000 square feet, the library also features an entry plaza and an amphitheater that can host various events and programs. The library’s interior covers 22,000 square feet and features a public plaza or a city hall

8. The building is constructed over a light rail line

The design of the Calgary Central Library was inspired by the Chinook cloud arches formations in Alberta. Additionally, the library is located above an operational light rail line, which runs beneath the building, effectively separating the downtown area from the east village.

9. The modular hexagonal patterns also symbolize the concept of a united community.

The building features a unique design element of scattered modular hexagonal patterns made from transparent fritted glass, which can be interpreted as resembling an open book or enclosed house. However, these patterns are not merely decorative; they symbolize the concept of a collective community.

10. The design of the Calgary central library ensures that the interior of the building is visible from all sides and angles

The interior of the Calgary Central Library can be viewed from all sides and angles due to its design, which ensures visibility from any direction, including the view from the train or across the street.

The light rail transit line passes through the library, adding to its uniqueness. The building’s sides serve as a welcoming front entrance, making it easily accessible from all directions.

11. The furniture in the library is exclusively crafted from red cedar wood

The interior of the library features an impressive display of woodwork made entirely of red cedar planks sourced from British Columbia, making it the world’s largest formed timber shell.

12. Inside of Library

The Calgary Central Library is a three-story building with the ground floor dedicated to public events and activities. The other two floors are designated as quieter study areas for serious learning. Additionally, the library features a dedicated children’s section and playhouses for young visitors to enjoy.

13. Magnificent glass ceiling with wood slats allows an abundance of natural light to illuminate the interior.

The oval-shaped Calgary central library features a stunning glass ceiling with wood slats that allows abundant natural light to filter into the building. The atrium features stairways that enhance the building’s beauty and design. Overall, the interior of the library is awe-inspiring.

14. Calgary Central Library’s striking design is believed to have played a role in enhancing the city’s reputation.

After its completion in 2018, the Calgary central library’s impressive architecture has been recognized as a significant contribution in improving the city’s image, especially for the 2026 Winter Olympics game bidding

15. The inauguration ceremony of the new central library was graced by Chris Hadfield, a retired Canadian astronaut.

The retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield inaugurated the new central library, which was celebrated for four days. During this time, over 52,000 visitors, including locals and people from around the world, came to see the library

16. Calgary central library was listed by the American monthly magazine, Architectural Digest.

In 2018, the Calgary central library’s outstanding design and finishing were widely recognized, and it was featured as one of the “Best 12 Buildings” in Architectural Digest, a monthly American magazine.

17. Won the ‘Architecture Award’ in 2020

The Calgary central library received several accolades for its remarkable architecture. It was awarded the esteemed ‘Architecture Award’ by the American Institute of Architects in 2020, and the ‘Outstanding Architectural Design’ award from the American Institute of Architects, New York, in the same year. The library also received recognition from prestigious organizations such as the American Library Association, Library Leadership, and Management Association in 2019, and it even won a Library Building Award.

18. Awarded Global Design Merit in 2019

The Calgary Central Library added another accolade to its list of achievements by winning the Global Design Merit Award in 2019, presented by the Society for Experiential Graphics. The library’s innovative design and thought-provoking ideas were recognized and honored with this prestigious award.

19. Widespread Recognition

The Calgary Central Library has received widespread recognition for its remarkable architecture and design. It was honored with the Excellence Award from the Canadian Consulting Engineers and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies in 2019. It also won the award for Building Communities by the CISC Alberta Steel Design Award, and several others, including the Canadian Architect Award of Merit and Azure Magazine’s Best Canadian Architecture of the Decade.

20. Features 450000 Books

The Calgary central library boasts an impressive reading room with a capacity for over 450,000 book titles, making it a remarkable feature of the library. Additionally, the library’s conference room located at street level has the capacity to host more than 350 people.

21. Titled as New Icon of the city by the mayor

The newly constructed Calgary central library was bestowed with the title of ‘new icon of the city’ by the mayor of Calgary. The library is designed to offer privacy while also providing visibility, with each floor having multi-purpose rooms and different setups for analog, digital, group, and individual interactions, allowing visitors to have a complete experience. The library also features categorized sections with a capacity of over 450,000 book titles and a conference room that can accommodate more than 350 people.

22. The wooden archway is 85 feet Long

The wooden archway in the central area of the library is a remarkable feature with a length of 85 feet. Its curved surface alternates in the shape of a pointed ellipse, providing an open view of the sky and making it a distinctive landmark of innovative public building design.

23. The ‘curtain wall’ has 485 Panels

The building’s exterior has a unique appearance resembling a curtain wall, but it is actually made up of 485 panels that were specifically designed and installed by a local company, adding to the building’s complex urban aesthetic.

24. The library building has 17,000 tonnes of Steel!

The library building boasts a staggering 17,000 tonnes of structural steel within its frame, an impressive feat for any building. To put it in perspective, this amount of steel could be utilized in constructing more than 1000 medium-sized cars.

25. The Archway

The welcoming archway at the entrance of the library is constructed using Western redwood timber. It houses several multi-purpose rooms with vertical wood slats. The shape of the wooden soffit in the library’s skies was inspired by the chinook arch cloud formations that are commonly observed in Calgary.

26. The library was featured in ‘Top 9 Futurist Libraries in the World’

The Calgary Central Library has been included in the list of the top 9 futuristic libraries in the world, which is well-deserved as there is nothing ordinary about this library.

27. Shaikh Family Welcome Gallery

As soon as you enter the central library your first point is the Shaikh Family Welcome Gallery. All the levels that are connected by the cozy and lovely gallery servers as the focal point

28. A Place to Celebrate

The Central Library hosted the City of Calgary’s New Year’s Eve party two months after it opened, welcoming more than 52,000 guests for Opening Weekend festivities in only four days.

29. The community room of BMO Financial Group

The BMO Financial Group Community Room is an excellent center for exchange of different information among Calgarians and is a free, bookable community venue.

30. TRIO

TRIO is the work of public art outside the building which is an animated work done by artist Christian Moeller that brings joy to the scenery

31. Outdoor Spaces

The library is surrounded by green areas for everyone to enjoy and provide a better connection in the library program by connecting with the pedestrian. The outdoor events in the warmer months are held outside in outdoor meeting area and theater to feel lively

32. Library Express

At the main level, you can easily collect your reserved items, explore popular new releases, and browse a curated collection of books recommended by the library staff. This area is designed to assist those who may not frequently read books in navigating the intricate urban environment.

33. Computer Bars

The library now offers an online experience where customers can access library resources and work remotely from laptop bars that overlook the Shaikh Family Welcome Gallery, providing a stunning view.

34. Additional Charging Stations

With the availability of numerous power outlets throughout the library, you can explore and make use of digital resources for extended hours without worrying about your phone or laptop’s battery. This convenient feature also allows you to stay charged while visiting the library or when traveling to other locations.

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