Gerda Molson: Chief Librarian
Linda Potter: Assistant Librarian
Diane Charlwood: Children's Librarian
Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library...a library with a difference, and a dungeon. A dubious distinction perhaps, but maybe not such a bad idea for habitual overdue fees. Everything about this library says history; no doubt it helps being part of a town court house that was built in 1808. The library was first allotted space in this building in 1855: but records show that it is the oldest library in upper Canada as the original building and almost the entire collection of books went up in flames in 1813 during the American invasion. The first entry dated 8th June, 1800 reads: "Sensible how much we are at a loss in this new and remote country for every kind of useful knowledge, and convinced that nothing would be of more use to diffuse knowledge amongst us and our offspring, than a library, supported by subscription in this town, we, whose names are hereunto subscribed hereby associate ourselves together for that purpose, and promise to pay annually a sum not exceeding four dollars (!) to be laid out on books as agreed upon by a majority of votes at a yearly meeting to be held by us at this town on the 15th of August annually, when everything respecting the library will be regulated by the majority of votes." (Whatever happened to grammatical goodness?)
By 1895 it had moved from the third floor to its present location at the back of the old town hall and here it has continued to expand with a children's room in 1973 and, most recently, a pretty and functional craft room just off the children's section. Across from the craft room is a striking cave-like room that houses the local history collection and archival information. Named after a former librarian/author principal of Niagara, the Janet Carnochan Room, (1839-1926) has a rounded ceiling of the original sand-blasted red brick and stone walls; a fitting place for the interested to delve back in time.
Also stored here are the results of an 8-month Niagara Historical Society Study - an archival filing system which includes file cards describing what is available on microfilm in the way of council, institutional and school papers, a complete set of Niagara's early papers and a reader-printer close by to complete a very efficient reference device.
The craft room that was completed in February of this year was conceived and designed by a member of Niagara's library board, interior designer Paul Johns, who is responsible for so many of the library's most charming features. Complete with original recessed windows and fireplace, it's hard to envision it as the ceiling-less storage room it was before. A tentative long-range plan for a multi-purpose meeting room which would be accessible to the public even during the library's off-hours, has also been drawn up by Mr. Johns. This "artist's impression" is on view in the library to give all an idea of what is hopefully planned for the future.
Gerda Molson, who has been chief librarian for almost eight years, has seen the library grow from one room with a not very up-to-date collection to the interesting, pretty and thoroughly modern facility it is today. It can also boast the unique feature of being the first library we know of to conduct free, guided tours of this historic town during the summer months. A total of 1500 people took advantage of the service this year, while many other tourists wandered in just to have a look at this inviting library.
Another product of a fruitful summer was the creation of a historical guide book by four students who used the provincial and national historical plaques throughout the town as a chronological guideline. The result of an idea conceived by Gerda this 51-page booklet (complete with illustrations) will be published under a Wintario Book Projects Grant and will, hopefully, be ready for spring 1978.
From its inception in the midst of change and upheaval until today where care and intelligence have made it a special place, Niagara's library continues to delight, inform and interest town dwellers and tourists alike.
PROGRAMS FOR FALL AND WINTER MONTHS:
- Marital communications
- Child core and development
- Income tax
- Children's legal rights and more....
The twenty programmes scheduled for the fall and winter months are geared towards women (with child care being provided within the library during the programme in session) and cover a variety of topics. These programmes are presented on a weekly basis and will feature speakers from many professions.
On Thursday 3 September 29th, Phyllis Yaffe of the Children's Book Centre was at the Regional Headquarters to outline the workings of the centre and the services available to libraries.
The centre is prime objective is to make Canadians more aware of the high calibre and great variety of Canadian children's books that are available. The centre is sponsoring a Children's Book Festival during the week of November 13-19 when Canadian children's authors will be touring the country reading their works in libraries and bookstores. The centre is currently distributing festival kits that include, book jackets, posters and programming ideas for a minimal two dollar fee. The centre is also willing and anxious to make contacts with authors and their publishers for visits to your library.
For further information, please contact regional headquarters or:
Children's Book Centre
86 Bloor Street West Suite 215
TORONTO Ontario M5S 1M5
RING around the REGION
Congratulations are in order on two counts for Cathy Sorensen, graphic arts technician at NRLS; she has recently become Cathy Lane and also been recommended to the Board of Governors of Niagara College as a prospective member of the Graphic Arts Advisory Committee. The nomination received approval at its recent meeting.
The Grimsby Public Art Gallery, which is housed in the same building as the library, was recently renovated and reopened at the beginning of Art Week in September. Included in the renovation was a new entrance to the library and a ramped entranceway for both facilities to provide access for the handicapped for the first time. The gallery's walls have been re-finished with floor plugs installed to improve lighting. Badly needed storage space for furniture and the gallery's permanent collection has also been added. A humidity control system has been installed to bring the gallery into the 'A class' category making it eligible to receive more delicate works.
Also unveiled during Art Week was a huge historical, ceramic tile mural measuring 12 feet long by 10 feet high, which was created for the library by Toronto artist Merton Chambers. The $3000 mural, which depicts information pertaining to the history of Grimsby, consists of earthenware tiles shaped like open books of various sizes and includes entries dated as early as 1798.
THE TOWN OF HALDIMAND:
Caledonia Public Library has recently acquired the cassette tapes 'Destiny Canada'. These tapes are highly recommended for Service Clubs and other groups for discussion and this library will gladly loan these tapes to any interested groups.