A mini-library pops up in Hillhurst-Sunnyside

The Calgary Public library has returned to Kensington, offering more to the community than just books.

On Sept. 8, the library opened its new pop-up location in the vibrant heart of Kensington.

Located in the Lido condo building, at 10th Street and 2nd Avenue N.W., the pop-up is only 400 metres from where the former Hillhurst–Sunnyside library closed its doors in 1970.

“We’ve had a few people come in who still remember those days,” said Shannon Slater with the Calgary Public Library.

The former public library served Sunnyside for 23 years before declining circulation caused the branch to shut down.

While the 2016 version of the library may be small – less than 800 square feet – it has a lot to offer people in the neighbourhood.

Slater said that the modest size of the new space is allowing them to try out new programs and services in a way that can be responsive to community demand.

While the library does boast a sample selection of books for everyone from children to adults, Slater says the focus is on engagement through interactive drop-in programs.

We hope other people in the city will look at this as an opportunity that benefits everyone. – Shannon Slater

On Thursday nights, adults can drop in for HTML and CSS coding classes, which have been a hit with the community.

However, Slater said that other classes have been tailored to appeal to families without being “just technology based.”

On weekends, for instance, patrons can come by and try typing on an old typewriter or engaging in creative problem solving challenges.

“It’s common for parents to go to their kids with tech questions, and now we’re seeing a lot of parents and grandparents teaching their kids how to use a typewriter,” said Slater.

Another demographic that Slater says they’re hoping to reach out to are young, urban professionals who may have gone some time without stepping into a library.

“We get a lot of young, 20-year-olds who don’t have library cards,” said Slater.

With the pop-up, they’re able to engage the younger generation in a trendy area of town, and Slater said they’ve had a really good response so far.

So could you see a pop-up library sometime soon in your neighbourhood? Slater said that it’s a definite possibility.

“We’re open to that, this is our first trial,” said Slater.

She said that there is a great amount of work that goes into opening a library and that the opening of the pop-up is beneficial to test the waters for the Calgary Public Library.

“It’s an opportunity for us to internally experiment with different ideas and to see what might work in different places,” said Slater.

The library is currently set to operate until December and Slater said that the hope is to drive traffic to the area and create awareness.

“We hope other people in the city will look at this as an opportunity that benefits everyone,” said Slater.

About Britney Carswell 7 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Britney Carswell is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2016-17 academic year.