The Calgary Public Library celebrated the opening of its 21st community library, the Seton Library at the Brookfield Residential YMCA, on Jan. 19, with an emphasis on early learning and community investment.
“Despite the new library downtown, [our] focus remains on community investment. [We’re] creating spaces that are welcoming to the people that live [all across the city],” said Lauren Herschel, senior communications officer at the Calgary Public Library.
The 25,000-square-foot library is now the third-largest community library in Calgary and includes a teen centre, study space, meeting rooms, and many other programs and services.
One of these services is Calgary’s 12th Early Learning Centre, which is sponsored by Hopewell Residential.
The real estate developer has given the library funding to run an early childhood education program for the next 10 years.
“[The library] really fits a need down here, especially from an early learning capacity. This part of the city has been drastically underserved by our library for a long time. There are lots of young families, and young people just starting out.
“So it’s a great location for a library,” said Herschel. Seaton is a new community that has been developed south of Stoney Trail and east of Deerfoot, on the southeast edge of Calgary.
During the opening day celebrations, the library offered up free crafts and activities for kids, including an opportunity to explore a decommissioned Alouette III helicopter, provided through a partnership with the Hangar Flight Museum.
The helicopter is something that Herschel said adds an entirely “new dimension” to early learning.
“Moving forward, our goal is for there to be an Early Learning Centre at every single location we have. So it’s great that Seton could start out with one rather than having to go back and retrofit.”
“And it’s great to have funding right away from Hopewell.”
Paul Taylor, president and COO of Hopewell, said that the opportunity to become part of the “social fabric of the community” and a “long-lasting legacy” was an opportunity that Hopewell couldn’t pass up.
“We’re really pleased to be a part of this and we’re quite taken aback with the activity [on opening day],” said Taylor.
Looking towards the future, Taylor said he sees the Seton Library playing a really special role in the community as a meeting place for people.
“It obviously has a place in the here and now and I believe [the library] to have been planned to be future-proof,” he said.
“I believe it will evolve with time to the needs of Calgarians as that changes over the next hundred years.”
Similarly, Herschel said that she hopes that the library will continue the trend of creating and fostering “safe and inclusive spaces” where families can come and enjoy time with their kids, whether that be to “play, get books, or learn.”