Calgary Public Library card fees eliminated ahead of schedule

The Calgary Public Library says it has been able to stop charging for cards earlier than expected after a large donation to the library foundation.

Calgary now joins many other cities in not charging for library services

Donations to the Calgary Public Library Foundation have raised enough money to end library card fees. (CBC)

The Calgary Public Library is not charging for cards anymore at its 18 locations around the city.

The fee was to end Jan. 2, but the library president Bill Ptacek says private donors to library foundation were able to cover the $200,000 cost.

Ptacek says they have already stopped charging for the cards. It also means Calgarians will not have to renew their cards.

It means Calgarians can get a new membership, download an e-book or browse the internet without paying a cent.

"We've got so many great things to offer to the community, and we have so many ways in which we can be relevant to people's lives," said Ptacek. "To have this fee stand in the way of that, and the renewal and all the other things that go along with it, it was really important to remove those barriers." 

Unusual to charge, says library president

Ptacek says it is unusual to charge for cards. He said a library card processing fee was created in Alberta in the 1980s for financial support, but Edmonton dropped the cost more than a year ago.

He expects it will make Calgary's libraries more accessible.

"The whole program is geared to getting more people into the library and more people using the library," said Ptacek. "Calgary has a very, very low percentage of total population with library cards compared to other communities around North America, and we are convinced the fees were a real impediment to that."

The Calgary Public Library Foundation was created in 1999 to help support the local system. It has recently launched a campaign called Add In, which the foundation says will be the "largest fundraising campaign for a library in Canadian history."

The campaign has already secured more than $245 million for the new central library slated for downtown. Ptacek says the foundation will continue to fundraise and is always looking for new donors.

Library locations:

  • The Central Library: 616 Macleod Trail S.E.
  • Alexander Calhoun Library: 3223 14th Street S.W.
  • Bowness Library: 6532 Bowness Road N.W.
  • Country Hills Library: 11950 Country Village Link N.E.
  • Crowfoot Library: 8665 Nose Hill Drive
  • Fish Creek Library: 11161 Bonaventure Drive S.E.
  • Forest Lawn Library: 4807 8th Avenue S.E.
  • Glenmore Square Library: 7740 18th Street S.E.
  • Louise Riley Library: 1904 14th Avenue N.W.
  • Memorial Park Library: 1221 2nd Street S.W.
  • Nose Hill Library: 1530 Northmount Drive N.W.
  • Saddletowne Library: 7556 Falconridge Blvd N.E.
  • Shaganappi Library: 3415 8th Avenue S.W.
  • Shawnessy Library: 333 Shawville Blvd. S.E.
  • Signal Hill Library: 5994 Signal Hill Centre S.W.
  • Southwood Library: 924 Southland Drive S.W.
  • Thorn-Hill Library: 6617 Centre Street North
  • Village Square Library: 2623 56th Street N.E.


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