CALGARY – The number of memberships at the Calgary Public Library is up by 133,000 in just over a year.
More than half a million Calgarians have library cards now and there has also been a million more visits than the previous year.
Calgary Public Library CEO Bill Ptacek said offering free library cards last year helped. The public is no longer required to pay the yearly $12 charge.
“Given the fact that things are pretty tough right now, the library is probably the best value in the community, especially in these difficult times,” said Ptacek.
Ptacek also said library staff members have visited daycares to help encourage children to read books.
“There are 83,000 (card holders) under the age of 5. We have programs for babies and toddlers. We have homework assistance,” said Ptacek.
The Calgary Public Library is offering incentives to attract more people to libraries, including making meeting rooms available for free.
“On Family day, February 15th when all the libraries used to be closed, we are going to open six of our libraries so there’s something for families to do,” said Ptacek.
Terra Aitkin hopes to inspire a love of reading early with her daughter Isobel and regular trips to the Forest Lawn Library are part of the plan.
“It’s pretty important to me because it gives me books that I can regularly change up to read to her, instead of the cost of buying new books all the time. With the cost of buying books, I wouldn’t be able to give her the variety I can with the library,” said Aitkin.
One of the goals at the Calgary public library is to get people “using” their cards now, by making sure the collections are more relevant; offering free meeting rooms and increasing the amount of digital resources.
“We are making those more available to students and the Calgary public library is one of only two libraries in Canada that downloaded last year more than one million books. So we have a really good collection of e-books and they are really easy to download to your Ipod or your phone or wherever. Anywhere you go, you can have a book to read,” said Ptacek.
Two new replacement libraries are also set to open in Calgary. Remington Centre will replace the Glenmore Square Library and the Westbrook Library will replace the Shaganappi Branch.
For more information on Calgary public libraries, visit calgarylibrary.ca.