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16,500 CALGARIANS VOICE OPINIONS ON NEW CENTRAL LIBRARY
February 07, 2013 11:35 AM Categories: Recreation & Leisure
Approximately 16,500 Calgarians voiced their opinions online and in person at over 150 events and public forum opportunities regarding the new Central Library and the future of Calgary’s library system over a six-month period.
“Engaging Calgarians on the new Central Library is one of the most exciting projects I’ve experienced,” notes City of Calgary Alderman and Calgary Public Library Board member Druh Farrell. “People speak passionately about what they want and need in this new facility. The new Central Library will be a reflection of this collective vision.”
Citizens did not hold back when asked what makes a great 21st century library.
“Calgarians responded with enthusiasm, passion and inspiration,” says Janet Hutchinson, Calgary Public Library Board Chair. “They clearly see their libraries as essential to helping create complete communities and feel strongly that they are a symbol of inclusiveness, hope and growth.
“On behalf of the Calgary Public Library, I’d like to extend our sincerest thanks and gratitude to every citizen that participated in the process and provided us with such carefully considered, thoughtful input.”
Calgarians’ priorities for their library
The first phase of public engagement, dubbed “Think Big!,” asked Calgarians to identify their top priorities for the new Central Library as well as for the Calgary Public Library system, by responding to an Issues and Priorities Survey. The survey was available online, at all CPL branches and on iPads deployed by project ambassadors at events across the city.
A staggering 12,733 survey responses were collected from June to August 2012. Additionally, 2,294 children and youth participated in age-appropriate activities based on questions from the survey.
Using the priority rankings from the survey and detailed comments provided by survey respondents, four themes clearly emerged:
These four themes were further explored in the second phase of engagement.
Digging Deeper! into what citizens want
The second phase of public engagement (Dig Deep!) took place from September to November 2012. Over 50 face-to-face opportunities were provided for Calgarians to talk in more detail about how they saw these themes playing out in their future libraries.
1,467 individual inputs were received during this phase which saw groups brought together such as families, children, youth and library staff at fun and interactive events. Stakeholder sessions and citizen focus groups to gain insight into the needs of specific groups were also held in the second phase of engagement.
“Regardless of the group engaged or the method of engagement, the consistency and frequency of ideas that surfaced shows Calgarians have a vision for their city and the role the new Central Library plays in that vision,” says Hutchinson.
Guiding themes in developing the new Central Library
Calgarians as a whole outlined key themes to guide the development of the new Central Library:
“Calgarians told us the new Central Library needs to be a symbol for the community,” adds Farrell. “They want a welcoming and inclusive place that is attractive, provides relevant, up-to-date programs, and offers flexible, functional meeting spaces.”
During the past 18 months, the Calgary Public Library, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation and The City of Calgary have been working hard to advance planning for the new Central Library.
While public engagement was occurring, parallel tracks of work underway included: a Calgary Public Library operational review; assessment of Block 127 to determine impact on the East Village overall; analysis of initial cost estimates; an examination of the physical site to determine development options; and development of a Master Program.
“The Master Program directly responds to citizen feedback from the public engagement process,” explains Hutchinson. “It describes, at a macro level, elements of space, systems and character required for the new Central Library in the context of the broader Calgary Public Library system.”
The Master Program is integral to the next phase of work – architectural design – as it outlines the space requirements for everything that needs to be included in the library, including different types of collections, work areas for staff and public spaces.
“It is clear from the feedback that Calgarians are deeply interested in this important project,” says Farrell. “They are excited and eager to provide input on the building design, and so we are planning future consultation to keep the momentum going.”
Work is now underway to converge the various streams of work undertaken this past year for a report to Council at the end of February.
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