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Calgarians pledge $1 million for public library history centre

Dierdre and Ian Harris sign their names in the public library's 'Big Purple Book' on the page commemorating their million dollar donation towards the Williams and Harris Shared History Centre at the new Central Public Library. Wednesday, July 26th, 2017. (Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

Yet another large donation for the Calgary Public Library will help create a special feature at the new downtown branch next to City Hall.

Dierdre and Ian Harris are pledging $1 million for the Williams and Harris Shared History Centre.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it serves a pair of purposes.

“The Williams and Harris Shared History Centre will be an opportunity for people to access all the archival and historical photos and documents the Calgary Public Library has. But also to tell stories about their own history and add to that collection all the time.”

As lifelong Calgarians, Dierdre and Ian Harris wanted to do something to encourage a better sense of community. Another positive for the Mayor is that the couple aren’t the type of people you might expect to cut a million dollar check.

“So, these are not multi-millionaire billionaire people. They are people who have said, you know, with the money that we’ve saved as a couple and as a family, we want to give a legacy in our will and we want to give it to something that’s going to make a difference for people forever, and they chose the Public Library, which is so great,” Nenshi said. “This is actually the third million dollar donation to the Calgary Public Library from people who are not names you see in the society pages. From people who are just everyday people who are just everyday people who want to give a legacy to the library.”

In a speech, Ian Harris said some people might wonder why this library is being built in the internet age, but he says these institutions are even more valuable now.

“You’ve undoubtedly noticed that the internet contains an awful lot of garbage. Misrepresentation, half-truths, pure lies and a distressing amount of prejudice and hatred. And it is precisely because of this swamp of poisonous stuff that, in my mind, libraries are so very essential. Our wired world hasn’t rendered our libraries obsolete, it’s made them more relevant than ever. As a society, we need libraries to be our bastion of truth.”

The new Central Library is set to open in November of 2018.