The Calgary Public Library
Inspiring Life Stories Since 1912

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Prominent among those women was a literary enthusiast named Annie Davidson who led the successful drive to have Alberta’s first public library built in Calgary. With an endowment from the Carnegie Corporation, the Calgary Public Library opened to the public in early 1912 and soon became a boon to book lovers of all ages. Over the ensuing century it has continually proven its value to seekers of enlightenment, enrichment and entertainment.

Much more than a repository for books, this award-winning institution provides a cornucopia of services and programs to empower, enable and excite the imagination of the community. In The Calgary Public Library: Inspiring Life Stories Since 1912, award-winning popular historian Brian Brennan introduces us to the principals in the Library’s ongoing success story. Alexander Calhoun was the founding librarian who gave Calgarians access to the great works of world literature. His successor, Bill Castell, was the builder who put branch libraries into every neighbourhood. Les Fowlie was the lobbyist who convinced the Alberta government to give more money to public libraries. John Dutton was the growth manager who gave the burgeoning suburbs their first full-service regional libraries. Gerry Meek was the leader who spearheaded the development of a new central library and boldly launched the Calgary Public Library into a second century of public service.

Brennan combines these with the stories of such beloved former librarians as Louise Riley and Georgina Thomson to paint a vivid portrait of an ever-evolving community resource that will continue to provide valuable service for the centuries to come. Once dubbed “the friendliest door in town,” the Calgary Public Library remains a welcoming haven for people of all ethnic, linguistic, political, religious and socio-economic stripes.

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