What You Can Get With Your (Free) Calgary Public Library Card
Get up to 12 movies a month, learn something new by taking an instructor-led online course or read your favourite e-book.
It’s one of the cards in your wallet that gets you a lot of access, we’re not talking about your credit card.
We’re talking about your library card. New this year, the Calgary Public Library has gotten rid of their membership fees and increased its selection as part of its ongoing effort to revamp before the opening of the New Central Library in 2018. It will have 240,000-square-feet of usable space, 600,000 books and special space for learning and technology. But, before then, the CPL wants to double its membership to 800,000 by the end of the year. It offers plenty of perks to draw us in and remind us how important it is to the community.
Here’s what you can get with your (free) library card at any of its 18 branches around the city or online at calgarylibrary.ca. We didn’t include books in the list, because hopefully you already knew that.
You no longer have to worry about paywalls when it comes to e-newspapers. Card-holders can read digital newspapers from all around the world and have full access to the articles, editorials and columns in Canadian newspapers such as The Globe and Mail and Calgary Herald.
For the history buffs out there, your card also gives you access to the completely searchable archive of The Globe and Mail, which has articles from 1844 up to 2009, and The Toronto Star, which has articles from 1894 to 2011.
With a library card in your pocket, you don’t have to take out a student loan to keep learning. Get free instructor-led online courses through Gale Courses, take online practice tests with Learning Express or encourage your kids to study for their exams with practice tests and study guides through SOLARO. You also have access to reputable dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Download eBooks and eAudiobooks from 7 different sources.
The library is also the place for magazine lovers. The CPL card allows card-holders access to resources such as the National Geographic Virtual Library, all the Vogue publications from 1892 or read as many magazines as you’d like for as long as you’d like off of Zinio.
Libraries aren’t just sanctuaries for books (and e-books and magazines.) When it comes to music, card-holders can stream or download music from five different sources, including Naxos Music Library (classical, world and pop music), Opera in Video (music from the Baroque to the 20th century) and Music Online (any kind of music you’d want).
Download up to 12 items per month off of Hoopla or get 3 downloads per week as well as 3 hours of streaming each day with Freegal Music.
The CPL also gives its users access to NFB Campus, which streams fiction and non-fiction films from the National Film Board of Canada from 1971, as well as to Hoopla. Download up to 12 movies per month off of Hoopla.
While this isn’t a free perk of your library card, it is an impressive tool that you probably didn’t realize was right at your fingertips. ResearchPlus is a fee-based reference and research service where experts in genealogical searches, city directory searches, historical searches and more get you the information you’re looking for in as little as 24 hours.
In 2013, CPL had the help of more than 2,300 volunteers who put in more than 43,000 volunteer hours. Their value totaled more than $1 million.
Demand differs between library branches and fluctuates during the year, but library branches have searched for adults to fill roles in the ESL Conversation Club, career coaching, computer technology, math skills and more.
From September to November, the Memorial Park Library branch hosts the Writer in Residence program. Specifically for budding writers in the community, the Writer in Residence acts as a mentor, offering feedback and support to local writers and their unfolding work.
Other events and programs offered at the library branches target toddlers, children, newcomers to Canada, entrepreneurs and life learners. Kids can learn how to make their own cartoon, join the LEGO club and learn from mad scientists. Adults can learn how to build their resume, research family history, tackle debt or use social media.
Alternatively, hold your own event in one of the city’s library branches. CPL has recently waived room rental fees.
The Calgary Public Library has partnered with Sun Life Financial to provide low-income Calgarians with the opportunity to enjoy cultural events in the city. As long as you have a valid CPL card and a City of Calgary Recreation Fee Assistance card, anyone is able to attend events such as CPO concerts, Theatre Calgary shows and museum exhibits for free.