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A close-up of a newly opened delphinium flower (Summer 2013).

Monday, February 28, 2011

What I Love Most About Calgary

Today, I will digress a bit from writing about psychology and philosophy and will tell you about what I love most about Calgary, my home since December 2001. In 2009, the Toronto Board of Trade named Calgary as the best city on the planet. It has been judged in 2007 by the Mercer Human Resources as the cleanest city in the world, among 300 cities studied for their quality of living. For a map showing Calgary in the over-all Canadian landscape, click here.

I am fortunate to be in a place where the public libraries (17 branches in Calgary's 4 quadrants) are some of the best in the world. The holdings of each library boasts thousands of paper books, e-books, CDs, and DVDs. 

You can borrow up to 99 books or CDs, 30 DVDs, magazines, and 10 New & Notables at any a single time. 

You can find online the Best Sellers, Recommended Readings (books that have earned awards), the hottest title, the hottest author, and the hottest subject.

Obtaining borrowing privileges is easy. All you need is to show proof that you are a resident of Calgary, usually by showing a mailed envelope with your name and address on it and one other identification card. You are then given a library card which costs $12.00 for adults, $9.00 for seniors, $6.00 for teens, and free for children. Your library card, which has a barcode for convenient borrowing, is good for one year.

You can borrow books and other items using any of the self checkout machines or by going to a human librarian who will give you a smile and a warm hello.  Loan periods are 3 weeks for most books, CDs, magazines, and e-books. You can renew books three times after your initial borrowing, with each renewal good for one week. You can return books at any of the 17 branches.

You can request for items online to be be put on hold for you and you can pick them up at the library branch of your choice. The procedure is like magic: you search for books, put them on hold, assign a library branch of your choice where you want to pick them up, and usually within a week, you will receive notification by email that your books are ready for pick-up. 

And as if that is not enough, these 17 library branches have free programs and classes tailored to all ages, from teens to seniors. The programs include authors' readings, business and development, computer literacy, reading and writing, and something for everyone.

There are also used books for sale in every branch. Some of these books are only a year old and they are sold for 50 cents or a dollar each.

Deane and I are voracious readers. It is no wonder we regularly visit the Nose Hill library on weekends, the nearest branch to our house. I usually have 20 books to read at any given time. Most of the music in my iTunes Library are imported from CDs I have borrowed from this branch. 

I like being tantalized by books that expand my mind, uplift my mood, widen my understanding, and introduce me to new things I have never known before. For instance, I learned how to make swarovski bracelets three years ago by reading books on jewelry-making and I subsequently sold some jewelry at a nearby jewelry store. I learned how to be a gardener on this side of the world where the growing season is between 80-120 days, by reading books on gardening. When I feel down on the dumps, especially during winter when there is lack of outdoor activities and sunshine for me, I read books that remind me of the things I should be grateful for and why life is always meaningful, regardless of what I feel. And yes, there's the Garfield comics and Archie comics that never fail to entertain me before I sleep at night.

The Nose Hill Library has been my constant source of inspiration and information since my arrival in Calgary. There are still so many areas to explore in this city but for now, I would rather smell the books and explore the library shelves at this library.

My next write-up is about happiness. Watch for it next week. Until then, enjoy your week. Take care.