Central Library prepares to close its doors after serving community needs for 55 years

The Central Library served several generations of Calgarians, welcomed newcomers and adapted to the changing needs of the community over 55 years.

'Libraries have always been about serving the needs of their community in some way, shape or form'

Calgary Central Library opened in June 1963, across from City Hall. (Calgary Public Libarary)

Calgary's Central Library is closing — but not to worry. It's moving a block away to a new building that's already catching the attention of the architectural world for its beautiful design.

Sarah Meilleur, the library's director of service delivery, shared some old photos with CBC News, and reflected on what the downtown library has meant to the city over the past six decades.

"We are really excited and overwhelmed by our new library, but there also are those moments when you think back to all those stories that have been shared, and all those programs and events [that took place] at the Central Library," Meilleur said.

Under construction in 1962. (Calgary Public Library)

Designed by J.H. Cook and Associates, the Central Library opened across the street from City Hall on June 15, 1963.

Over its 55 year history, it has grown and adjusted to changing times, adding a Canadiana room, a theatre, computers and, in 2016, a decommissioned fire truck in the lobby.

"Libraries have always been about serving the needs of their community in some way, shape or form. Libraries grow and continue to change and adapt to what their community needs," Meilleur said.

"At least, that's what good libraries should be doing: paying attention to what the community needs and changing and adapting.

"There was a time when libraries weren't very welcoming for children and families — and now we absolutely are. That's a big part of our mission and what we do is, we help kids get ready for kindergarten and build those early literacy skills they need," she said.

"When the Central Library opened back in the '60s, there was not the technology there is now. That wasn't necessarily a part of programs and services," she added.

"Now it's so core to what we do."

The front entry desk. (Calgary Public Library)
The reading room. (Calgary Public Library)
The Central Library downtown, in the 1970s. (Calgary Public Library)
The library in 2008. (Calgary Public Library)
The Library in 2017. The new library opens Nov. 1. (Calgary Public Library)


Stephen Hunt

Digital Writer

Stephen Hunt is a digital writer at the CBC in Calgary. Email: