Downtown library ‘for everyone’: Nenshi


    By Darlene Casten

    The new Central library opened Nov. 1 with thousands lining up to get a look at the $245 million building.

    Mayor Naheed Nenshi opened the library, telling the crowd, the building is here as a springboard for dreams and is open to all Calgarians.

    “We believe in public spaces for everyone,” Nenshi said. “Whether you’ve lived here for hundreds of years or you arrived last week from terrible conditions in a refugee camp. This place is for you.”

    Justine Bacani was at the opening with her cousin and sister, who had the day off school.

    “We wanted to be one of the first to see the library,” Bacani says as her younger sibling and cousin played a wood block stacking game in the children’s area.

    Bacani and her family members were three of 52, 223 people who visited the library on its opening weekend.

    They waited in the lineup starting at 9:30 a.m. on the opening day and were still at the library at 1 p.m.

    “They are enjoying, so I don’t mind,” Bacani says.

    The modern and retro design and acclaimed architecture of the building impressed Bacani.

    “It’s very cool,” she says. I’d like to come here more often to study.”

    The Ilocano speaker was surprised to hear the library carries Filipino language and Filipino dialect books and movies from the Philippines.

    Sarah Meilleur, director service delivery, says the Calgary Public Library builds its foreign language collection based on the growing ethnic populations.

    “We have over 20 languages…in print, DVDs and CDs,” she says.

    Many books are dual language, to help those learning to the Filipino language or Filipino speakers wanting to learn English.

    The new central library also has immigrant services through Immigrant Services Calgary on Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    Settlement workers will meet with new immigrants to answer their questions and point them to other service agencies that can assist them.

    The new building, over four floors, also has in indoor children’s play area, study areas, public meeting spaces, video-conference room and a teen tech lab with everything from video games to sewing machines.

    The new central library is located on 3rd Street SE, behind City Hall.