May 28, 2022

Library Leaders: Calgary Herald Publishes 3,000 Word Profile of Calgary Public Library CEO Bill Ptacek

Calgary Public Library’s CEO Bill Ptacek is profiled and interviewed in a new in-depth profile (about 3000 words, wow!) about his work at CPL and librarianship in general.

Ptacek took over as CEO the Calgary Public Library on February 1, 2014 after leaving his position (one he held for 25 years) as director of the King County (WA) Library system.

From the Profile:

We have a highly educated city,” she says. “We should have 90 per cent or more of Calgarians with library cards.” The CPL wants to double its membership by year’s end. Ptacek started in February 2014 with a mandate to shake things up. He’s moved quickly, just as he did in Washington—at times to the consternation of King County library staff and members who didn’t appreciate his reforms. In Calgary, Ptacek has led similarly dramatic changes. Most noticeably, the CPL has trimmed its physical collection by about 13 per cent. “We don’t need to have every novel that John Grisham wrote on every shelf in every library,” Ptacek says.


In just over a year, the Ptacek-era library already looks and feels different. In May, the Central Library will host a Friday evening all-ages rock show with local bands to launch a new teen space on its main floor. “Big noise? You bet!” reads the event description. “High energy? You got it!”


At the Chicago Public Library [he’s a Chicago native], Ptacek met his wife of four decades, Margaret (she is a children’s librarian), and became head of the city’s northeast district. In 1979, he left for two five-year stints as library director in Idaho Falls, Idaho and Louisville, Ky. Getting proper funding was a struggle in Louisville, but in Idaho Falls, Ptacek saw the community impact a library could make with strong backing from a mayor and city council. The CPL gets most of its $55-million in annual revenue from the City of Calgary, along with some additional funds from the province, a library foundation and fines. Calgary appealed to Ptacek in part because of Mayor Naheed Nenshi, a charismatic booster of libraries.

Read the Complete Article (Approx. 3000 Words)

See Also: Ptacek is seen or heard in a number of Calgary Public Library videos. Here are a few recent examples.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.