Banff Public Library (BPL) was founded in 1949 through the work of the Junior Chamber of Commerce. First located in the basement of the Banff Clinic, staffed by volunteers and funded by donations, its beginnings were small and humble. The original book collection consisted of approximately 2,000 volumes, mostly novels.
In 1962, Peter and Catharine Whyte along with their sister-in-law, Barbara Whyte, provided space for the Library in a private home at 111 Bear Street. The Library remained at that location until 1968 when, through the continued generosity of the Whyte Foundation, the Library moved to a shared space with the Archives of the Canadian Rockies.
In 1974, BPL became a full-fledged municipal library, financed by local taxes and government grants. By this time, its collection had grown to 16,000 volumes, a library board had been established, and a professional librarian was in place. In 1984, the Whyte Foundation, seeking a shaded space for its growing collection, offered the Library Board a sub-lease on its property west of the post office for the building of a new library. Through local fundraising, grants, and contributions, the new library became a reality, having its official opening in April of 1985.
In 2000, BPL became the first public library in Alberta to eliminate membership fees for local residents. At the Alberta Library Conference in 2002, the Honourable Gene Zwozdesky, Minister of Community Development, presented BPL with the Creative Public Library Service Award for its aptly titled "Reaching Readers" initiative. This initiative made free library memberships a permanent policy in Banff and brought province-wide attention to the vital role that public libraries play in a democratic society.
Today, BPL houses over 37,000 books and audiovisual materials. In 2020, more than 1,700 community members had a library card and borrowed over 30,000 items directly from our location. Patrons also accessed over 15,500 items from other libraries across the province through The Regional Automated Consortium (TRAC) and Relais interlibrary loan systems.
The incredible community support offered by the municipal government and residents of Banff and the surrounding area allows Banff Public Library to continue to offer exceptional public library service.