Staff of the Red Deer Public Library is encouraging the community to join in the celebration as the library marks its 100th anniversary this year.
Events and activities have been planned throughout the year, but this month marks a very special event on April 23.
Highlights include a presentation by historian Michael Dawe, a reading by Red Deer sports poet Frank Pavlick, a mayoral proclamation and special guest storytime, cake, balloons and free library cards for Red Deer residents, a children’s iPad mini draw, plus displays and events in all departments including music and treats in the mezz.
Activities kick off at 10 a.m. in the downtown branch and at 1 p.m. at the Dawe branch.
Holding these key celebrations on April 23 is also significant as it was on April 23, 1914 that Bylaw no. 363 brought Red Deer Public Library into being, said Christina Wilson, the library’s chief executive officer.
“It was merely one year after the City itself was formed, so that is significant because the community felt it was a really important thing to have in their community as they grew forward,” she said. “Obviously, (they) believed in providing really good services for their people and one of those services was a library.
“So many people have had a hand in building this library – the names are all around us – the Snell Auditorium, the Dawe Library. We also have a Wall of Fame which shows all the people that participated in connecting what was a fire hall and turning it into a children’s library.
“Many of the initiatives that happened back in 1914 are continuing to this day. So our centennial celebration is very much something that we want to engage the community in.”
Another highlight this month takes place April 5 with a performance by Duke Thompson, a former resident of Red Deer. Folks are invited to ‘Keyboard Conversations with Duke Thompson’ which begins at 7:30 p.m.
It’s a free concert and it takes place in the Snell Auditorium. There will also be a silent auction, cash bar and tours of the library.
Meanwhile, centennial celebrations kicked off Jan. 25 with a Family Literacy Day launch of ‘Reading Rainbows’ – a child-themed library card.
Throughout the year there will be displays, contests and ways for people to tap into the library’s rich resources. For example, the Dawe branch has gotten a jump on the theme of ‘100’ things with its ‘100 Best Picture Books’ display that is continuing until the end of the year.
At the downtown library, two new programs beginning in January continue the theme of ‘100 years of Discovery’ as well. ‘100 Things to Do with Books’ is a free craft program taking place on the third Sunday of the month. And ‘100 Years of Animation’ is a free film series taking place on the second Sunday of every month as well.
As mentioned, the Library board’s gift to Red Deer residents throughout April is the gift of library membership, which is good for a year.
The Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery has also provided space on the Community Wall in the Remarkable Red Deer exhibit, entitled ‘Red Deer Public Library: 100 Years of Discovery.’ It opens April 11 with a Strawberry Tea from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Discovery Studio.
The summer months will provide ‘Eureka’ moments, the theme of the Summer Reading Game. The Library also has hired a digital literacy coordinator, tasked with helping people become more tech-savvy.
September’s big events will be the opening of the Timberlands Branch and the launching of a picture book, authored by children’s staff member Laurel Grimes, with illustrations by Lorelei Vuori. It’s the story of the building of the downtown library’s children’s area.
October is Library Month and will feature a grand opening of the new branch.
Also, the popular First Thursdays music program celebrates five years in November with a special performance on Nov. 6 at noon.
“It’s been truly a partnership between the Library and the incredibly vibrant music community here,” said Wilson. “It’s been so well-supported. We can bring in very high-quality musicians to perform here. And we have the most perfect venue for it – the Snell Auditorium. So it’s a showcase for both the musicians and the library.”
Wilson also pointed out that besides of course celebrating the past, part of the focus through the year will be on looking forward.
“I’d say the cornerstone of that is the opening up the first library branch here in 10 years. On Sept. 2, the Timberlands Branch will be open. As mentioned, the grand opening will be in October,” she said. “And what a month to pick – Library Month,” added Wilson with a smile. “The timing couldn’t be better.”
Ultimately, there is plenty to celebrate. And much to look forward to.
“This library has always been doing innovative things. And that’s one of the things we want to celebrate.”
For more information, visit www.rdpl.org and the library’s facebook page for updates.