From the very beginning, possibly overwhelmed by his success, Alexander Calhoun felt that the Carnegie library in Central Park was not going to meet the needs of Calgarians for very long. Branches were opened to address the situation but eventually the truth had to be faced – the Central Library was too small. A suggestion was put forth to put an addition on the Carnegie library but the director, by now W.R. Castell, opposed this move believing that an addition would clash with the architecture of the old library (yay!) A new central library was needed.
After much debate on where it should be built the library was invited to take the space beside city hall, the site of an Imperial Oil gas station and in 1962 the demolition began. There was, of course, opposition to putting the library in the “East End” as it was known. What, in 1912, had been the true centre of the city had become, well, kind of run down. But the area was rich in history. Before the site of the library had been a gas station it had been a livery stable – City Horse Exchange, James Twohey, Prop. Next door to him was John Page, the blacksmith. In 1915 the livery seems to have moved and the Canadian Novelty Company had taken its place. Nearby was a vacant lot, which in the 30s became notorious as “Red Square” where local communists, workers groups and other protesters met and staged various actions.
We are soon to build our third Central Library. Let us know your thoughts on what should be included in the New Central Library by filling out a survey at:http://www.calgarynewcentrallibrary.com/