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January 2, 1912

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

pc 596

Public Library and Central Park, ca. 1915

Postcards from the Past

On January 2nd, 1912 Calgarians celebrated the official opening of Calgary Public Library in Central Park. The building still stands and houses the Memorial Park Library.

This was Alberta's first public library and was the first Carnegie library in the province, so called because it was partially financed by wealthy American steel industrialist and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. The library opened with 5000 volumes on its shelves; 1000 fiction titles, 1000 in biography and history, 1000 in travel, 1000 children's books and 1000 reference books. T.A.P. Frost was the first of over seventy citizens to register as borrowers that first day which was remarkable considering that though the books were on the shelves, they were not available for borrowing.

This postcard, from our Postcards From the Past section of the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library, shows the bandstand and the South African War memorial statue by Louis Hebert.

For more information on this beautiful library visit our Virtual Tours of Historic Calgary .

There are a number of books which discuss the history of the library and the people behind it. Esther Gorosh's Calgary's Temple of Knowledge: A History of Calgary Public Library (027.47123 GOR) outlines the early history of the library system. Alexander Calhoun by Donna Lohnes and Barbara Nicholson (020.924 CAL L) is a brief biography of the fascinating man who became the Chief Librarian of the new library and whose vision gave shape to the library for generations to come.

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