Catalogue of the books in the Library of the Niagara Mechanics' Institute. 1895.

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Full title:
"Catalogue of the books in the Library of the Niagara Mechanics' Institute. Established 1848. Aemulatio Alet Ingenia. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. "The Times" Book and Job Printers. 1895.

Brochure: soft cover; size: 12.1cm x 19.5cm; p.60.

"Presented by Miss Carnochan. May 1896"
The present Public Library dates from October 1848 when the Niagara Mechanics' Institute was founded, for the "promotion of scientific pursuits, the advancement of knowledge and acquisition of a library and necessary apparatus." The Niagara Mechanics' Institute provided lectures, a library and classes for the improvement of mechanics and others. To become a member of this organization, an entrance fee and monthly subscription were required (with a privilege of lectures extended to immediate family members).

The first executive consisted of W.H. Dickson, President; E.C. Campbell, Vice-President, Dr. Melville, Secretary; W.F.G. Gowns, Treasurer and Librarian as well as R. Wagstaff, T. Eedson, John Simpson, James Bouton, J. D. Latonche, John Andrew, James Monro, Samuel Risley, John Whitelaw in General Committee. Ninety-two members were listed at this time, plus nine life members: George Boomer, E. C. Campbell, W. H. Dickson, Charles L. Hall, Andrew Heron, Wm. Kingsmill, Sheriff, Richard Miller, John Simpson, Joseph Woodruff.

A general meeting was held once a year to elect the General Committee. Under the General Committee there were three sub-committees: Lecture and Class, Finance and Library. The Library Committee was responsible for selecting and purchasing books and newspapers which "shouldn't be of immoral or irreligious character". Members of the Institute could recommend some books but they had to be approved by the Library Committee.

The Institute Library was a circulating one and a librarian had to be present on certain days of a week.
The Board of Police offered the Institute a room below the Judges' Chambers in the Court House for its operation.

The Library boasted 134 members in 1863; however, as the economy of the town began to decline, so too did the Library. Another major influence in the decline of this locally-funded institution was the increase in the use of Niagara area public school libraries. In fact, in 1895, the Ontario legislature directed that the school libraries become public institutions.

On May 6 1895, Miss Janet Carnochan, secretary of the Mechanics' Institute, recorded the annual meeting in her minutes and then, one week later, she began the minutes of the Board of Management of the Niagara Public Library.

At this time, the Library was located in the former Grand Jury Room on the third floor of the Court House. This location was not very accessible to borrowers. As a result a better home was found in 1896. The old covered market at the rear of the Court House, on the ground floor, was available. The Library moved in and occupied two-thirds of the area and the volunteer firemen had the other third. This location became the permanent base from which the Library continued to expand.

Source: "Origin of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library" by Ms. Terry Mactaggart.
"The Times" Book and Job Printers
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Corporate Name(s):
Niagara Mechanics' Institute (1848-1898)
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  • Latitude: 43.2549765537404 Longitude: -79.0718141260338
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Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library
Agency street/mail address
10 Anderson Lane P.O. Box 430
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0
Full Text

In June, 1893, a committee was appointed to take steps to obtain a printed catalogue, but the members of the committee, after enquiry as to cost, did not feel justified to incurring the outlay, but this year the committee consisting of H. Paffard, R. C. Burns and J. Carnochan, in presenting this catalogue feel pleasure in thus carrying out the wishes of the directors in supplying this long felt long, and hope the outlay may be justified by the increases prosperity of the Library.


The Niagara Mechanics' Institute was founded October 24th, 1848, as shown by a pamphlet containing the Constitution and By-Law. The officers were: President, W. H Dickson, M. P. P.; Vice-President. E. C. Campbell: Secretary. Dr. Melville: Treasurer and Librarian. W. F. G. Downs; Committee, R. Wagstaff, T. Eedson, John Simpson, Jas. Boulton, J. D. Latonche, B. A., Jno. Andrew, Jas. Monro, Samuel Risley, Jno. Whitelaw. A list of one hundred members is given. From a catalogue printed in 1861 it is seen there were then one thousand volumes. Judge Campbell, whose portrait hangs on the wall of the Library room, was President for several years. Interesting lectures on Chemistry and other subjects were given by Jno. Whitelaw, Dr. Campbell, Rev. Jno. B. Mowat and others, and the Library was fairly prosperous for some time. Then followed a period of depression in which Mr. Thos. Eedson gave much of his time as Librarian without any remuneration, and for some years the Library was almost defunct. This was caused chiefly by the withdrawal of the fixed government grant. The officers of the Library, uniting with others, made strenuous representations to Hon. S. Richards, and shortly after the present grants to Libraries from the Province of Ontario were begun. Through this and the energy of Rev. W. H. Withrow, then a clergyman in Niagara, the Institute was revived. A great debt of gratitude is owing to William Kirby. Esq., F. R, C. S., who has for many years been President, (especially in the selection of books.) It is acknowledged that no place of similar size has such a valuable library, the high class of the works having many times been referred to by competent judges, this being greatly owing to Mr. Kirby. In 1882 a classified catalogue was made, the books having previously to this stood on the shelves without any such division. The books then numbered 2500; at the present time 3650, and the best periodicals of the day are found on the tables.

During all these years in the fluctuations in the prosperity of the town, perhaps no other institution in the place can show such a marked improvement. Although the membership is not so large as in 1848, the number of books has steadily increased. The Library is particularly rich in the departments of History and Science, also what may be called the classics of English Literature. The works of Fiction are not of the trashy nature found on many Library shelves, but mostly standard works of a good moral tendency. The chief want at the present time is a room which will be at the same time both easily accessible and safe, the present airy, lofty room being in the upper story of the Court House.

An interesting discovery has lately been made of the existence of a valuable Library in the town from 1800 to 1820, numbering one thousand, which then passed into private hands, and it is hoped that some of these books may yet be obtained to add to the present Library, as relics of the past.

The present officers are: Wm. Kirby, F. R.C. S, President; Rev. Jno. C. Garrett, Vice President; Henry Paffard, Esq,, Treasurer; J. Carnochan, Secretary; the other members of the committee being Dr. Anderson, Dr. Avery and Messrs. H. A. Garrett, R. Wilkinson, F. Winthrop, R. C. Burns, W. E. Lyall, F. B. Curtiss, J. H. Burns, making thirteen directors. The Finance Committee consists of R. C. Burns, Dr. Anderson, F. Winthrop. The Book Committee, the President, Vice President, Secretary, F. B. Curtis, J. H. Burns.


Constitution and By-Laws of the Niagara Mechanics' Institute framed and adopted in 1848 and amended and adopted in 1882.

1. This institution shall be called the Niagara Mechanics' Institute and Library Association.

2. The objects of this Institute shall be the promotion of scientific pursuits, the iffusion of useful knowledge and the encouragement of literary tastes and acquirements, by means of a judiciously selected library, a Reading Room, Essays, Lectures and such other means as the General Committee or a majority of them may from time to time approve of.

3. The affairs of the Institute shall be managed by a general committee of thirteen, including a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. Five of this committee and a majority of all sub-committees shall form a quorum.

4. A general meeting of the Institute shall be held yearly, in the month of May in the Reading Room to receive and consider the annual report and to elect the General Committee.

5. Any person who has reached the age of sixteen may, on the recommendation of two members of the General Committee, become a member of the Institute by the payment of an entrance fee of One Dollar.

6. Suitable persons may at all times be appointed Honorary members by a unanimous vote of the general committee, subject to the approval of the Institute at the next ensuing annual meeting.

7. No book of an immoral or irreligious character or subversive of Christianity shall be admitted into the Library; nor shall any subject connected with religious or political controversy be introduced at any meeting of the Institute.

8. This constitution may be altered or amended at any annual meeting, provided always that no alteration or amendment shall be effected unless notice of the proposed change, distinctly describing it, has been put up in a conspicuous place in the reading room at least three months previous to the annual meeting to which it shall be submitted; and unless moreover it receives the assent or two-thirds of the members present.



Article 1. Each member shall pay to the Secretary in advance an annual subscription of one dollar and fifty cents, and such payment shall entitle every member without distinction of sex to all the rights and privileges of the Institute, which rights and privileges shall be held to be eligibility to all offices, power to vote at all meetings of the Institute and the use of the Library and Reading Room, subject to such rules and regulations as the General Committee may from time to time prescribe.

Article 2. Neglect in every case for one full year to pay the annual subscription, or disorderly conduct or the introduction of discussions expressly forbidden by the constitution shall, at the discretion of the General Committee be held to be respectively a forfeiture of all the rights and privileges of membership, provided always that such persons may for good reason shown be restored by the General Committee.

Article 3. Honorary members shall be entitled to the use of the Library and Reading Room only.

Article 4. During the months of June, July, August and September temporary subscribers who are non-residents shall on the recommendation of two members of the General Com. become entitled to the use of the Library and Reading Room, by the payment of one dollar and the usual monthly fees, and the deposit of five dollars with the Treasurer, the said sum of five dollars to be in each case given back on the expiry of the four months, provided all books taken out of the Library have been returned in good order.

(This By-law was altered at meeting of General Committee June 14th 1893 to these words, that the deposit fee be still $5, but that no deposit be asked from such as are known to the Librarian to be people of standing and trustworthy.")


Article 1. The General Committee including a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer shall be chosen by a vote of the members present at the annual meeting of the Institute taken by ballot; provided always that retiring members may be re-elected and that all members once elected shall hold office until their successors are appointed.


Article 1. The General Committee shall have full control of the property of the Institute and the management of the funds. They shall hold their first meeting from year to year in the Reading Room, on the Monday next following their election, at 8 o'clock in the evening, and they shall meet thereafter at least once every four months.

Article 2. The General Committee shall at their first meeting and as their first business, elect a Finance Committee, a Library Committee and a Lecture and Classes Committee. They shall also at the same meeting appoint a Librarian and fix his salary.

Article 3. The General Committee shall prepare yearly a full report of all their own proceedings as well as of the proceedings of the various sub-committees appointed by them, and lay the same before the annual meeting of the Institute.

Article 4. The General Committee shall have full power to frame Rules and Regulations for the management of the Library and Reading Room.


Article 1. The Finance Committee shall consist of three members. This Committee shall have charge of the Financial affairs of the Institute, carefully examine all accounts submitted to them and give orders on the Treasurer for their payment if found correct. They shall also report upon the same at the next ensuing meeting of the General Committee. They shall moreover audit all accounts of the Secretary and Treasurer and furnish a yearly report of their proceedings to the General Committee, at least two weeks before the annual meeting of the Institute.

Article 2. The Library Committee shall consist of five members. The duty of this Committee shall be to select, purchase and provide books, magazines, periodicals and newspapers as they or a majority of them may direct to the extent of the funds available for such purposes. They shall also furnish yearly to the General Committee a report of all their proceedings as well as a detailed statement in relation to the condition of the Library and Reading Room, at least two weeks before the annual meeting of the Institute, and that the President and Vice President be ex-officio members of this committee.

Article 3. The Lecture and Classes Committee shall consist of five members. It shall be the duty of this Committee when practicable to establish classes for the study of any branch of science or literature as well as a course of lectures on subjects of general public interest at such times as may be deemed most suitable; but no classes shall be formed, nor course of lectures given without the consent and approval of the General Committee.


Article 1. The President, or in his absence the Vice President, shall preside at all meetings of the Institute or General Committee, and in case of a tie shall give the casting vote. He may at all times of his own motion call meetings of the Institute or General Committee, and he shall call such meeting on the requisition of six ordinary members of the Institute or of two members of the General Committee.

Article 2. In the absence of the President and Vice President, any meeting of the Institute or the General Committee fully convened, may appoint a Chairman pro-tempore, and transact all competent business.

Article 3. Vacancies in the office of President or other officers, or members of the General Committee shall as they arise be filled by an appointment of the General Committee, but the persons so appointed shall hold office only till the next ensuing annual meeting of the Institute.

Article 4. The Secretary shall keep a correct record of the proceedings of all meetings of the Institute and of the General Committee, give notice of such meetings, sign members tickets and pay to the Treasurer all the monies he receives. He shall carefully preserve all papers of importance relating to the affairs of the Institute, prepare the annual Election List and also the Annual Report of the General Committee.

Article 5. The Treasurer shall take charge of all monies belonging to the Institute and hold the same subject to the order of the Finance Committee. He shall pay no bills unless sanctioned by them and signed by their chairman and countersigned by the President, and shall make an annual report of all receipts and disbursements to the General Committee, at least two weeks before the annual meeting of the Institute.


The modes of procedure at all meetings of the Institute, of the General Committee and of the various sub-committees shall be the well known rules that regulate the proceedings of all public deliberative bodies subject to such deviations as the Constitution and By-laws of the Institute may necesitate.


No dissolution of the Institute shall take place, nor shall any arrangement for its management on a different basis be effected unless with the consent of the corporate members of the Institute.


1. All meetings whether of General Committee or sub-committee shall be held in the room of the Institute, unless by consent of a majority of the Committee about to meet.

2. The Library and Reading Room shall be open to members on Tuesday evening from 7 to 9 o'clock; on Thursday evening from 7 to 9, and on Saturday afternoon from 2 to 5, and in the evening from 7 to 9 o'clock.

3. The Librarian shall keep a classified record of all books, periodicals &c, issued, and note when a book is retained an unreasonable time, or returned in a damaged state, and report the facts to the Chairman of the Library Committee.

4. The Librarian shall be the recipient of all books, &c., arriving, and he shall at once number and stamp them and place them in the Room for issue at the order of the Book Committee.

5. The Librarian shall keep a book in which members may recommend the purchase of any book, which if approved by the Library Com. and the funds admit of it shall be added to the Library.

6. If any member shall write in a book or otherwise damage it, the person in whose name the book was taken out shall pay the amount of damage to the value of the book or set (if it belong to a set), or replace it by one equally good, at the discretion of the Library Committee.

7. Any member may introduce a friend to the room on the days the Library is open but such friend may not take out any book, periodical &c.

8. No member shall be allowed to take out for another member any periodical or book without a written order.

9. Any regular member of the Institute may cease to be such on giving a notice in writing of his resignation to the President, Treasurer or Secretary of the Institute;, and he shall be held responsible for the payment of all dues up to the time of such resignation.

10. The General Committee shall have power to repeal or annul the

By-laws by a majority vote by giving one months notice thereof.

Adopted July 7th, 1882.



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Catalogue of the books in the Library of the Niagara Mechanics' Institute. 1895.

Full title:
"Catalogue of the books in the Library of the Niagara Mechanics' Institute. Established 1848. Aemulatio Alet Ingenia. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. "The Times" Book and Job Printers. 1895.

Brochure: soft cover; size: 12.1cm x 19.5cm; p.60.

"Presented by Miss Carnochan. May 1896"