PRESERVING PUBLIC INFORMATION HOUSES IN THE DIGITAL AGE
After a long search, the Calgary Public Library has named Bill Ptacek as their new CEO. Mr. Ptacek’s reputation precedes him: he made some truly amazing advances during his time leading the King County Library System in Washington and his dedication to public literacy will no doubt translate into a stronger library infrastructure for Calgary. Janet Hutchinson, chair of the CPL’s board of directors, chaired the CEO search committee and although the committee deliberated over many candidates, they consider themselves incredibly fortunate to have hired Ptacek. “He intrigued us the first time we interviewed him because of what he’s done in King County. We wanted someone who was not only capable of running a system of our size, but also of helping it to grow. We wanted to ensure that we had the best person to lead our system, so we looked at other candidates but ultimately came back to Bill.”
Calgary has one of the most-used public libraries in North America, but that still hasn’t halted discussion on whether our tax dollars should continue to support brick-and-mortar libraries now that Internet access has become so common. We should remember that Internet access is still a luxury: new Canadians and people living on a tight income can’t always afford consistent access, so the library helps to ensure that all Calgarians have access to the information that they need. More importantly, libraries contain more than just words. These buildings are staffed with helpful, dedicated individuals and the CPL has taken great strides to turn these buildings into fruitful learning environments. To quote Ms. Hutchinson: “The library is a place for community congregation. It’s very easy to be isolated, but the library is a centre for community engagement and community gathering.”
In order to foster this spirit of community engagement, the CPL has brought in many noteworthy authors for readings and workshops. Many branches regularly hold English-as-a-second-language sessions and initiatives such as One Book One Calgary, now entering its fourth year, help bring Calgarians together over a common love for literature. If you would like to support your library, make sure to keep a current library card. Active subscriptions allow city council to easily tabulate how important the CPL is to Calgarians. And be sure to take advantage of all that your local branches have to offer. Libraries are for everyone, after all.
Bill Ptacek’s sure-to-be-storied tenure at the Calgary Public Library begins in February. For up-to-date news on all things CPL, visit calgarypubliclibrary.com
By John Julius