Calgary central library project gets $1M donation

The Calgary Public Library Foundation is getting closer to its goal of building the finest new library in the world, thanks a to a $1-million donation.

Linda and Mike Shaikh's gift called an 'investment in education'

A wall of giant Lego bricks in front of a new Lego model of the new Calgary Central Library represent contributions to the foundation's Add In campaign. (CBC)

The Calgary Public Library Foundation is getting closer to its goal of building the "best library in the world," thanks to a $1-million donation.

Calgary philanthropists Mike and Linda Shaikh made the gift official on Saturday by adding a giant piece of Lego to a symbolic brick wall in front a Lego model of the new central library.

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      The $245-million project is being built next to City Hall in the East Village.  

      "We think it's the right investment. It gives a great rate of return, ie: education," said Mike Shaikh, a chartered accountant and former chair of the Calgary Police Commission.

      "And … education is the most important, fundamental ingredient in a prosperous country or prosperous nation."

      The Shaikhs' donation is part of a $8-million fund that has been collected so far in the library foundation's fundraising campaign, Add In.

      "With the leadership of Linda and Mike Shaikh, and the Add InCampaign Founding Partners, we are building a distinctive library system that will inspire discovery, promote learning and foster community interaction," said Paul McIntyre Royston, President and CEO of the foundation.

      He said the foundation's goal of building the best library in the world is a deliberately a subjective statement about something that can't actually be measured.

      "But we want Calgarians [to have] such immense pride and such ability to use the system and what it offers," he said. 

      Calgary philanthropists Mike and Linda Shaikh donated $1 million towards the new Calgary Central Library. (CBC)

      The foundation is now inviting all Calgarians to participate in a crowd funding project to help build an IdeaLab within the New Central Library.

      "A bit of a creative technology space that Calgarians can come down, build, play with new computers do some data hacking or whatever you want to do. Access that they wouldn't necessarily have at home," McIntyre Royston said.

      Even in the age of the internet, public libraries are as relevant as ever, according to Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

      "In fact the Calgary Public Library has seen record use year after year," said Nenshi.

      The new library was jointly designed by architects at Snøhetta and DIALOG and its construction is being overseen by Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC).

      It's slated for completion in 2018.

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