Bill Ptacek, CEO, Calgary Public Library, and Shelley Youngblut, General Director, Wordfest, today announced a creative collaboration that sees Wordfest move its operations to the top floor of the Memorial Park Library and share its extensive arts and culture expertise with Calgary Public Library. It’s been more than a century since the construction of Memorial Park Library as a “first rate building to underline the importance of education and culture in the West” (Alexander Calhoun, Calgary’s first librarian).
It’s now time for Calgary Public Library—with 18, soon to be 21, community libraries—to work with community and arts groups, as well as the Calgary Foundation, to reimagine Memorial Park Library as a community hub and a centre of Calgary’s creative and cultural events and programming.
This creative collaboration makes official the great work we’ve been doing together for some time,” says Ptacek of the longstanding relationship between the two partners. “With Wordfest’s incredible relationship with artists and authors, the Library can maximize on Wordfest’s creativity and cultural expertise as we reimagine the Memorial Park Library.
“Wordfest is delighted to have worked with the Library to create this opportunity to together build a city of readers,” says Youngblut. “Wordfest has always connected Calgarians with literary superstars; now we can unite our collective arts and culture knowledge, expertise, and resources to better serve the members of the Beltline community and all Calgarians!”
Today’s announcement is part of a larger strategy to reinvigorate Calgary’s first public library—the #1 amenity* in the Beltline community, home to residents—the majority of which are between the ages of 25-44 who are tech savvy, urban, interested in current affairs, public discourse, the arts, and wellbeing. As always, Memorial Park Library will continue to offer Library members access to its collection and services as it becomes Calgary’s Arts and Culture Library.
Earlier this year, WordFest received a grant from the Calgary Foundation to explore the possibilities for the 104-year-old building. The idea is to use the space not only for literary and WordFest events but as a cultural hub covering various art forms. Youngblut says she also hopes the move will help WordFest hold events throughout the year, not just during the two-week festival.
The Calgary Public Library has been involved with WordFest since the beginning of the literary festival, becoming a founding partner in 1996. The festival has held dozens of events at the library’s John Dutton Theatre.
WordFest will move its homebase to Calgary’s oldest library by the end of November, helping turn the historic space into a new cultural hub for the Beltline.
For more information contact:
Senior Manager Marketing & Communications
Calgary Public Library