Exterior, Millican-Ogden Branch, 1980s
Calgary Public Library Archives
Next year is the big 100th anniversary celebration for Calgary Public Library. On January 2, 1912 we opened our doors to the public and have been going strong ever since. Our first branch was opened in the next year, October 1913, in Crescent Heights. It was a very popular branch, as all of our branches have proved to be. This month, two of our branches are celebrating anniversaries, Glenmore Square, which turns 25 and Shawnessy, which is 10.
Branches have been a very important part of the library system. Our first Head Librarian, Alexander Calhoun, believed that one central library could not serve the already widespread population of the city. Crescent Heights was a logical choice for a separate branch as it was cut off from the city by the Bow River. There were bridges spanning the Bow but the population, which was about 10,000 at the time, could not always easily reach the city centre. Remember that the magnificent Centre Street bridge which now spans the river, was not finished until 1916, the bridge that they used to get across to the city centre was the rickety “McArthur” bridge, which would eventually be washed away in a flood.
Calhoun was a great believer in bringing the books to the people. In 1914 he opened a reading room, aimed at the unemployed, in the Rex Theatre. In 1915 he sent library discards donations solicited from the public to the YMCA reading room, the Sarcee Military Camp and at Victoria Barracks. Actual branch expansion was halted until the 1940s when the Inglewood, Hillhurst and Glengarry branches were opened.
Our celebrants, Glenmore Square and Shawnessy are relative newcomers, reflecting the expansion of the city. Glenmore Square branch started its life as the Millican-Ogden branch in 1986 and Shawnessy opened its doors in 2001. Both branches are hosting celebrations in honour of their birthdays and would like to invite everyone to come and visit and celebrate with them. There are programs and storytimes (and probably cake) at both branches. Check out the schedules on our website under Programs and Events on the left side of the page.
Shawnessy Branch Under Construction
Calgary Public Library Archives CPL 351-03-22