Preparations are now well underway for the opening of Calgary’s new downtown library — even if opening day is a year and a half away.
Construction continues on the $245 million centrepiece for the East Village and a city council committee was given an update on the project Wednesday.
Front and centre was the fact the library is on time and on budget.
The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation is the project manager for the library.
CEO Michael Brown said they want to deliver the completed building for an opening in October or November of 2018 — rather than by the end of that year.
“We can’t be in a position where we’re opening at Christmas,” he said. “We want this building to be successful and the success of the building is not about building it. The success of the building is about people being in it.”
Steel problems overcome
Brown says the library is back on track after some problems earlier this year with steel truss beams put them about six weeks behind schedule.
While it’s currently on budget, he said it’s possible it will finish up slightly under the $245-million price tag. If that happens, CMLC will use that excess cash for other projects in the East Village or Victoria Park.
“We’re looking at taking those savings and actually apply those within the Rivers District, within East Village itself,” he said.
Bill Ptacek, the Calgary Public Library’s CEO, told the committee preparations are well underway both for the move-in and programming at the new facility.
He said there will be 40 bookable spaces in the new library, including a theatre. His plan is to make it a hub of activities, not just a place for books.
Part of that strategy is to make the library more active and fun and get staff to engage the public more.
“You may have noticed if you walk by a library today, we’ve got staff standing outside of the library. They’re engaging people on the street. That’s part of our plan,” said Ptacek.
The plans extend to the new cafe that will be in the library.
“We have staff that are going off to different coffee shops to find great baristas and just model what they’re doing,” said Ptacek.
A self-proclaimed library buff who passes by the facility daily, Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he’s pleased the project is on time and on budget.
“I’ve been watching it go up and as always, I’m an armchair critic,” he said. “‘What about that cladding? Is that where those windows should be?’ But I’m so excited this is moving forward.”