I feel deep sadness at the news shared with me recently of Mr. Stan Milner’s passing. In reflecting on my relationship with Mr. Milner over the past six years, and the Edmonton Public Library’s relationship with him, my heart is also full of gratitude. I have had the honour of getting to know Mr. Milner and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to hear his stories and benefit from his wisdom, friendship and mentorship. Many of you may not know Mr. Milner and the very special place EPL held in his heart.
He was a brilliant businessman, and his inspirations included Andrew Carnegie, books and a love of reading which led to his ongoing passion and commitment to the Library. Mr. Milner was a tireless champion of the Edmonton Public Library for almost 60 years. Serving as chair of the EPL Board of Trustees from 1963 to 1968, he demonstrated his stalwart support of the Library in a multitude of ways. His vision and advocacy ensured EPL received the capital funding required for its new central library, and in fact he spearheaded the construction of the project to celebrate Canada’s Centennial in 1967. It was a library system built with the future in mind with a computer system to handle circulation, a theatre and a petting zoo for kids to enjoy and reflects Mr. Milner’s forward-thinking approach.
Mr. Milner’s support was also exemplified through significant and ongoing financial contributions—he donated millions of dollars to EPL over the years enabling the development of new branches, including the Shelley Milner Children’s Library and the recent revitalization of the Stanley A. Milner Library, and many other projects that would not have succeeded without his support. We continue to receive annual endowments for initiatives relating to children. Mr. Milner often spoke about the importance of education and that a child’s first introduction to ‘formal’ learning was through the public library.
While Mr. Stanley A. Milner’s philanthropic support has been unwavering, his counsel, advice and innovative ideas have been of tremendous support and inspiration to EPL leaders, most recently, EPL’s former CEO, Linda Cook and myself. Regular lunch meetings (until COVID of course) were held that often included Mr. Milner’s reflection on his vast learnings and experiences. He would quote poetry, reference recent news coverage or social media trends and propose creative ideas for library services and events. I could listen to him for hours and I will continue to cherish his stories and musings. He had a remarkably sharp mind and wit, and a terrific sense of humour. He enjoyed sharing a good laugh, and loved hearing speakers, like Rex Murphy and General Rick Hillier, at our galas.
I am extremely thankful that Mr. Milner was able to tour the revitalized Milner Library, contribute to an interview with Marty Chan on his impressions, and finally participate in our opening virtually. I can still see the smile on his face, and his amazement at what he called our “spectacular living mural”.
Though Mr. Milner was honoured for his support and contributions in 1996 with the renaming of the Centennial Library to the Stanley A. Milner library, his legacy will live on through EPL’s exceptional services and goals towards building better communities. EPL will continue to aspire to Mr. Milner’s inspiration, Andrew Carnegie. “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never-failing spring in the desert.”
I will greatly miss Mr. Milner and our delightful conversations and laughs and will treasure the memories and guidance, his fervent support and generosity, and his resolute belief in EPL. I am forever grateful. EPL is forever grateful.
Chief Executive Officer
Edmonton Public Library