Helping the Calgary library recover from the flood: 20,000 books under the Bow


First aired on The Homestretch (23/7/13)

The Calgary Public Library lost about 20,000 books when the basement of the central branch flooded and the estimated damage to the library is about $10 million. Now it's trying to collect donated books to offset the costs of replacing what was lost. This Saturday, July 27, the library will be hosting the "20,000 Books Under the Bow" book drive to do just that.

The basement of the Central Library branch was flooded and it damaged a lot of the library's material, including books and archival maps. "It was very sad to see," Paul McIntyre Royston, the president and CEO of the Calgary Public Library Foundation told The Homestretch guest host Frank Rackow. "Even books on the top shelf we had to discard because of the humidity in the air....the library has been hit hard."

The library is hoping to collect 20,000 books in donations. However, these books won't enter the library's collection. Instead, they will be sold online through Betterworld Books and the money raised through sales will be used to buy new books for the library. That doesn't mean you can get away with using this fundraiser as a chance to clear your bookshelves of old and unwanted reads.

"It's all about things other people want to purchase," Royston said. The library wants high quality, gently used books, DVDs and CDs and are "asking people to not bring in VHS tapes, magazines and encyclopedias" or self-published goods. Only "regularly read books" with ISBN numbers will be accepted.

The foundation doesn't have a target amount of money it would like to raise, but notes that if it acquires the 20,000 books, "it could mean upwards of $100,000" to replenish the library's collections. The library has long-term goals as well: a new 286,000-square-foot library shouldn't be delayed by the flood (it is still expected to open in 2018) and plans to create storage options for materials above ground are shaping up.

The library has been stunned by the outpouring of support in the community and, if anything, the flood has shown what an important asset the library is to the city. "The library saw an over 40 per cent increase at some [branches]. People needed a place to go, after the flood."

If you live in Calgary, you can take your donations to any of the 17 open library branches in the city on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is a "one day only event" but if you can't make it on Saturday, you can still drop your goods off at the Calgary Public Library Foundation's offices.

If you don't live in Calgary but would like to help, financial donations can be made to the Calgary Public Library Foundation through its website.