the role of the library 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. As a result, the Library system is one of the institutions included in the community planning framework to align with The City of Calgary’s policy of creating complete communities.
Phase one of public engagement on the new Central Library asked the participant about their priorities for both the new Central Library and the library system. The results tell us that Calgarians are invested in their communities and have strong ideas on the role the Library can play in the community. The survey allowed participants to “add a priority” and Calgarians chose to highlight issues around travel times, transit, accessibility, affordability, use by a variety of age groups, and other issues that are top of mind when designing complete communities. This discussion paper explains the concept of complete communities and outlines some of the roles the Library plays in supporting those communities.
WHAT ARE COMPLETE COMMUNITIES?
Complete communities are vibrant, active, green communities where residents and visitors can live, learn, work and play. Complete communities are designed to be inclusive, offering a full range of housing types, mobility options, and services to accommodate diversity. Providing services locally, offering choice in housing, and facilitating mobility allows residents to remain within the same community through the duration of their life. Complete communities are systems of resiliency; an integrated network of infrastructure, and services that ensure social equality, environmental integrity and economic stability that enable individuals and communities to grow and prosper.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE LIBRARY IN COMPLETE COMMUNITIES?
Connects and Equalizes
The Library contributes to the social equality in communities by serving as a champion of literacy, providing a welcoming accessible public space, encouraging citizenship, and by providing resources and specialized programming to the most vulnerable in our society.
The Library supports local schools and other community partners enhancing learning and growth at every life stage. The Library delivers literacy, technology and other programs attended by Calgarians of all ages. Programs like One Book One Calgary create a shared experience for a wide spectrum of people across the city, stressing the importance of reading, discussion and public discourse.
As a community hub and gathering place, local libraries can help turn neighbours into friends by providing public space for cultural events, social gatherings and community action. It is a space that is welcoming and safe for family outings, teens to hang out, seniors to socialize, and for communities to interact, learn about each other, and to collaborate.
Supports Economic Prosperity
As a gathering place and action centre, the Library adds to the vibrancy and activity of a community, attracting new residents and visitors alike, strengthening the viability of local transit and other services while promoting local businesses. With resources, programs and services, the Library supports job readiness; helps local residents find satisfying jobs and supports home-based businesses and entrepreneurs. The Library provides customers the opportunity to receive free in-depth assistance with research for business plans from an expert Business Librarian as well as many job related programs.
The Library itself also employs nearly 900 staff members in a variety of full-time, part-time and casual positions. Many of these positions represent that all important first formal job for dozens of young Calgarians and for many who are new to Calgary or Canada.
Promotes Engaged Citizenry
The local library is often one of the first places newcomers go to for an understanding of their city, conversation classes, access to the Internet and other settlement needs. In 2011, the Calgary Public Library was awarded the Urban Libraries Council’s Innovation Initiative Award in the category of Civic and Community Engagement for its programs designed to encourage informed voting during the last civic election. Initiatives including blogs, forums and public programs increased awareness and education about the election and promoted local engagement and community action.
Every day, the Calgary Public Library contributes to creating a more sustainable environment within communities through education, awareness, resources and practices. The Library strives for environmental excellence by reducing its environmental footprint as well as providing resources and programs to educate and promote environmental initiatives within communities.
The Library, in general provides the opportunity for citizens to “reuse” through borrowing materials or through access to more than 2.4 million electronic resources including online newspapers, magazines and books. By providing more items online, the Library makes it possible for Calgarians to use the Library without having to travel to the physical location.
One hundred years after the first public library building was opened in Calgary, the Calgary Public Library system is positioning itself for the future. The new Central Library is the beginning of a new direction for the library system, one that will support Calgarians and their communities into the 21st century. The development of Calgary’s new Central Library will renew the heart and hub of the library system and strengthen library services throughout the city, as well as creating a vibrant downtown destination and a source of great civic pride.
More than 12,000 Calgarians provided the input that identified “The Role of the Library in Complete Communities” as an important topic to explore. Now it’s your turn to help us “Dig Deep!” into this theme. Please join us at our public events and learn more at this website.
Questions to consider about future libraries
• What should Calgary and its communities aspire to be and how can the Library help to support that?