Calgary has one of the busiest library systems in North America, ranking up there with cities that dwarf it in size.

The Calgary Public Library (CPL) has set a new record for use, with more than five million visits in 2011.

The CPL ranks as the sixth-busiest in North America, behind only three New York City libraries, Toronto and Los Angeles.

"When you look at our system, it's a young, responsive collection that really reflects current interest current thought. We really do add materials every couple of seconds," said Gerry Meeke, CEO of library services.

Meeke said it's a system that bucks convention.

"Our level of municipal funding is approximately half of what is in Toronto or Vancouver … just by way of example. And we're below the average by a fair bit," said Meeke.