The Calgary Public Library Foundation was thrilled to celebrate one of the largest donations made to a Canadian public library and the largest donation received in our history. Conrad Whelan, founding engineer of Uber, chose to begin his philanthropic journey in the town he grew up in through an historic $5 million legacy gift in memory of his mother, Patricia Whelan, who passed away in January 2017. This contribution being made over time ensures the future expansion and enhancement of programs and services for the Calgary Public Library.
Conrad was raised in Calgary, receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Calgary before joining the founding team of Uber. As a beneficiary of the early learning and literacy supports that his family accessed through the Calgary Public Library system, Conrad is an advocate of lifelong learning. He fondly remembers his mother taking him and his sister for regular visits to Shaganappi Library, instilling in both of them a love of reading from a young age.
“I chose to give to the Library because I believe libraries are such an essential element in the development of civic spaces, cultures and cities. It means so much to be able to give back in such a memorable way to the city that raised me. I have many memories of my mother dropping me off at the Shaganappi Library where I’d read endless amounts of books and comics about travel and adventure. Those memories have now shaped me into the adventurer that I am today.”
After finding success within the tech start-up world, Conrad wanted to begin his philanthropic journey by giving back to a city that has given him so much. The Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall at the new Central Library is named in honour of Patricia’s passion for culture and in recognition of the importance of libraries. This will be a place for people to gather, listen to ideas, experience art, and share stories.
Ellen Humphrey, President and CEO of the Library Foundation, continues to be inspired the by increasing number of Calgarians who are stepping forward and investing in the future of our city. “We are honoured to have leaders like Conrad Whelan changing the way we understand the public library as a philanthropic cause. This is a shift to the way we think about libraries, learning and literature. Libraries are no longer just buildings with books, they have evolved to be critical pieces of social and cultural infrastructure to support a wide array of learners.”
The unveiling of the Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall occurred on Friday, December 7 at the new Central Library with Conrad’s family, friends and colleagues from the Calgary business community.