Calgary (Sept. 18, 2012) - Public engagement on the new Central Library is well underway and Calgarians have been sharing their perspective on this important project. A staggering 12,730 survey responses were collected over three months– helping to inspire the next chapter of Calgary libraries.
“Calgarians love their libraries. The fact that so many citizens took the time to share their thoughts with us this past summer shows the important role the library plays in the community,” says Alderman Druh Farrell, City of Calgary and Calgary Public Library Board Member. ”Libraries are a vital part of a vibrant, creative, and cultural city and help make Calgary a great place to live.”
Survey participants provided input on their priorities for both the new Central Library and the Calgary Public Library system as a whole by answering two questions: “What should the Calgary Public Library System do for you, your family and your community?” and “What should the new Central Library do for you, your family and your community?”
Surveys were conducted in-person by volunteer ambassadors and on-line at calgarynewcentrallibrary.ca. In total, 100 festivals and events were visited this past summer and we heard from more than a thousand children and youth through summer reading programs and other Library activities.
“Calgarians have been quite open with us and what they have told us so far has influenced this next phase of engagement,” says Jamie Niessen, Chair of the Calgary Public Library Board. “Every comment captured and idea generated has merit. Our challenge throughout this process is to take those comments and ideas, factor in the needs of our users and create something that is both amazing and affordable for all Calgarians to enjoy.”
The two-phased approach to public engagement on this project started with “Think Big!” The second phase “Dig Deep!” is currently being rolled out this fall.
“The creation of this library and the review of our library systems as a whole is a journey – and an epic one at that,” says Niessen. An important part of this next phase is getting people to think beyond the library’s traditional function and we challenge Calgarians to shed their preconceived ideas about what a library is. This is more than just creating a new facility – it is about envisioning a new chapter for libraries throughout the city.”
Using the priority rankings from this summer’s on-line survey, detailed comments provided by survey respondents and research on library trends and libraries of the future, four themes emerged:
- Awesome Spaces and Virtual Places
- Diverse Collections and Inspiring Resources
- Powerhouse Programs and Signature Services, and
- The Role of the Library in Complete Communities
The results of both phases will inform the functional program for the new Central Library which will be presented to Council in early 2013. The functional program will outline how the spaces and elements fit together and flow within one building based on the programs and services being offered.
The planning and building of a new Central Library is made possible by the Community Investment Fund. Created by City Council on July 25, 2011, the Community Investment Fund will dedicate $252 million from 2012 to 2016 to tangible and useful community improvements, such as libraries, recreation centres, swimming pools, arenas, athletic fields, parks, playgrounds and emergency services.
Onward/ City Council has created a long-term sustainable funding pool to address both new and existing community infrastructure needs. | imagineCALGARYvision: By 2036, Calgary repairs facilities, and increases the number of amenities and spaces that encourage human interaction.
- A new central library is long overdue. The existing library first opened nearly 50 years ago. It was created to support a library system serving up to 400,000 people. With Calgary now home to more than 1 million residents and with the ever-growing advancements in technology, it has become challenging to serve the needs of today’s Calgarians.
- The need for a new Central Library was validated in April of 2004 when City Council approved a $40 million contribution to a new Central Library. An additional $135 million from the Community Investment Fund was dedicated toward the project – for a financial commitment totalling $175 million from The City.
- On July 25, 2011, Council approved Block 127 in the East Village as the site location for the New Central Library (NCL). The site had been unanimously recommended by the Calgary Public Library Board following a diligent and rigorous analysis of potential sites. It will contribute to the revitalization of the area and that particular block.
- The City and the Calgary Public Library recognize the importance of creating a space designed for the needs of current and future library users. We are working together to ensure that a robust public engagement program helps to shape the space as well as the overall library system.
- Planning is underway, and citizens are key to the process. We need to understand what services and resources citizens would like to see in their libraries. We also want ideas about what experiences citizens want to have while they’re there. Collecting information, ideas and thoughts from people of all walks of life, of varying ages and with different interests will help us to shape all new libraries in the future – from the inside out.
- In parallel with the public engagement program, other streams of work are underway including a business model assessment which looks at trends, technology and the population to outline what types of services will be required to meet the needs of users.
- What Calgarians have told us so far has influenced this phase of engagement -“Dig Deep!” Using the priority rankings from the survey, detailed comments provided by survey respondents and research on library trends and libraries of the future, four “themes” were developed to help further the discussion this fall.
1. Awesome Spaces & Virtual Places – Over the past decade cities around the world have developed new library facilities, and re-imagined library space. Predictions that physical libraries would disappear in the age of Google and the iPhone have not come true rather, today, public libraries both in Calgary and across the nation are busier than ever. We want to create a space for Calgary’s libraries to accommodate the interests and activities of its users.
2. Diverse Collections and Inspiring Resources – These are rapidly changing times for libraries. With the rise of e-books and the creation of Smartphones and e-readers, both the delivery of information services and the role of library staff are changing. This change was on the minds of citizens who took part in engagement this summer on the new Central Library. What information are users interested in and how do they want to receive it?
3. Powerhouse Programs and Signature Services – Since 1912, Calgary Public Library has provided programs and services to meet the specific needs of Calgarians including programs for all ages, outreach in the community, information expertise, support for vulnerable populations, and access to new ideas, popular culture and recreational experiences. We know that Calgarians are interested in having a say on the programs and services of the Library and we want them to help us shape programming that will help enhance their lives.
4. The Role of Libraries in Complete Communities – The Calgary Public Library plays a role in our communities by promoting discovery, connection and creativity, ultimately enriching the lives of citizens and is a key component in contributing to ‘complete communities.’ How do we ensure that that library stays relevant as a hub of activity and learning continues to contribute to the overall health of the communities it serves?
- We want Calgarians to join in the conversation! A discussion paper has been developed for each theme. These papers provide context, highlight key trends, and pose thought provoking questions. Read them for interest, to stimulate new ideas or in preparation to participate in upcoming public engagement events. Visit: calgarynewcentrallibrary.ca and join us at an upcoming session.
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