Yesterday, the main branch of the library celebrated the 50th anniversary of its present location on the corner of 7th Avenue and Macleod Trail. There were a number of free events which took place at the library throughout the day.
Libraries have always held a special place in my heart as a repository of knowledge, wisdom and critical thought; while also providing the tools, access and resources needed to achieve the same. It has always been this way ever since my mother or grandmother probably introduced me to libraries as a young child. This was followed in grade two or three when I first helped out as a library assistant in my elementary school after classes were done for the day.
Our relationship has only grown since that time as we pursue knowledge and the love of the written word together.
There is nothing quite like browsing stacks of musty, well-loved books or touching the hand-written manuscript and being able to connect with the physicality and history that comes from that uninterrupted one-on-one dialogue. It is a special moment when one can pick up a book to read; then opening the page to see a book plate of a well-respected expert in the field that has passed on and/or seeing a personal inscription from the author on the frontispiece. It makes that personal connection that much more real than anything the internet will ever be able to provide.
Like many things in the internet age, libraries and archives have had to change and the tools that I remember as a child no longer have currency or have become obsolete and archaic.
Soon the main branch of the library will close and move to a new location in East Village behind City Hall. Along with that move there will be changes as the library changes with the times and the reality of how information is collected, disseminated and used. It may also potentially change the look of this street corner as the building has an uncertain future once the library moves out.
I will be looking forward seeing the plans in the months and years to come.
Happy 50th Anniversary to a long-time friend, the Calgary Public Library – main branch.