The History of the Carleton Place Library

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The History of the Carleton Place Library

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A HISTORY OF THE CARLETON PLACE PUBLIC LIBRARY

A History of the Carleton Place Public Libraryclick here

In honour of Janet Baril’s Retirement, Head Librarian 1984-2013

Starting in 1829, the Ramsay and Lanark Circulation Library originally served the townspeople of Carleton Place.  It had over 500 volumes, and was located in the Anglican Church which stood at Lot 16, 1st Con. Ramsay, opposite the Union Hall and schoolhouse.

Our present library began on March 14, 1846, as a Subscription Library with 65 original members.  The entry fee was 2 shillings and the yearly fee was 5 shillings.  The subscription list continued until 1850.  By 1851, the Carleton Place library was operating out of the school house on Bridge Street, later Central School, which became the site of the post office.  Some pages are missing until a partial list appears in 1864 when the record ends.

The officers and directors of the Carleton Place Library and Mechanics’ Institute for 1851 were:

President:  James Duncan (blacksmith); Vice President:  William Peden (merchant); Treasurer:  Robert Bell, M.P.P. ; Secretary:  David Lawson (store clerk, postmaster) ; Librarian:  Johnston Neilson (schoolmaster) ; Directors:  George Dunnet (merchant), Duncan McGregor, James C. Poole (newspaper publisher), Thomas Patterson (Ramsay farmer), John McCarton (Ramsay farmer).

April 5, 1865:  “The Carleton Place Library will be open on Monday next, and on the first Monday of every month hereafter.  Person wishing to read can on payment of .25 cent per quarter of a year.”

Interest in the library seemed to have dwindled until 1883 with the formation of the Carleton Place Mechanics Institute.  The object of this Association was to:  “establish a reading room and library, procure suitable apartments (sic) and deliver courses or lectures on useful and interesting subjects, as well as supply its members with the means of instruction in Arts, Sciences, Literature and General knowledge.”  They housed the library wherever there was an empty building, or an individual would take it to their home.  The Mechanics Institute looked after the library until 1895, when legislation was passed in Ontario whereby the Mechanics Institute became the Public Library, free of subscription dues.  The Town by-law taking over the Library was not passed in its’ complete form until January, 1897.  Upon completion of the Town Hall in that year, the Public Library began its’ long stay there.  At this time the book collection was 2,458 volumes, and the number of books taken out during the year was 4,418. 

In 1897, the Art Loan Exhibit, an exhibit of Lanark and Renfrew’s social and natural history was put together by the library at the Opera Hall in the new Town Hall.

Information from 1956 shows that “At present there are about 1,000 borrowers, approximately 8,000 volumes to choose from, and a yearly and growing circulation of over 20,000…on the library tables there is an excellent range of daily papers as well as periodicals of Canadian, English and U.S. origin, which can be read in the quiet and well-lighted main room…the library is housed in the town hall main floor, a central and convenient place for its users…”

In 1966 the Eastern Ontario Regional Library System was set up.  This allowed for a pooling of book resources and interests of all Public Libraries in the ten counties of Eastern Ontario. 

In 1970 the new library was built on land donated by the Town and funded by private individuals.  It measured 3200 sq. ft., four times the size of the Town Hall library.  Once again, in 1979, the Library needed more space and was expanded to double its’ size.

Then in September, 1986, the Library was vandalized and set on fire, destroying the adult fiction collection and causing water and smoke damage to the rest of the collection.  The library was moved to temporary quarters in the Mews Professional Building on Lansdowne Avenue, until the library was rebuilt and the fire damage cleaned up.  The Library returned to its’ home in February, 1987, with an official opening on May 23, 1987.

In 1994, the Library held 35,569 volumes and 93,040 volumes circulated during the year.  Also, 910 volumes were loaned to other libraries in Ontario and 966 volumes were borrowed from them.

Computerization came to the library in 1992 in the form of an automated system.  No more card catalogues, or hand-written patron library cards.  The future had arrived!

As a millennium project, the library underwent a massive renovation starting in

June 1999, and ending in February 2000.  At that time, the large Barbara Walsh meeting room on the east side of the building was turned into a much needed larger children’s area, with a new and smaller Barbara Walsh room added to the front of the building.  Glass fronted offices were added close to the new circulation desk, along with public internet access terminals and storage areas.  A local history/microfilm room was located near the Beckwith Street side of the building.

In December 2010, the library began to provide access to e-books through  Southern Ontario Library Service, for all Carleton Place and area patrons.  Ancestry Library Edition also became available early in 2011 for local family history buffs.

Statistics from 2011 show the Library holding approximately 63,000 items, with 108,280 circulating throughout the year.  As well, patrons borrowed approximately 2,440 e-books, and Ancestry Library Edition saw approximately 11,691 research hits.  Also, 1,273 volumes were loaned to other libraries in Ontario and 1,245 volumes were borrowed from them.

Librarians:

 David Lawson          1846-1851

Johnston Neilson    1851-1887

Peter McRostie       1887-1909

Emma McRostie     1909-1941

Louise Elliott           1941-1960

Barbara Walsh        1960-1984

Janet Baril                1984-2013

Carleton Place 200th fact-Thanks to Laura @Restovation — we now have this complete photo on file and available for all to look at online. Thank you. Downtown Carleton Place 1909—Built on the south side of the Mississippi riverbanks the new town hall was just about to be opened. The building which faced Bridge Street was to house “a joint” town hall, fire and police station, concert hall and new library.It was advertised as a building that would astonish strangers by its proportions and ornateness. The cost was currently at $25,000 and there were still yet bills to be settled. There was a good many ratepayers that were furious that the cost was above and beyond of the initial quote of $12,000 and they swore that council would be held responsible for such monstrous costs at the next election. In fact the media wrote that the council was said to have run away with their duties to their constituents, and it was built solely as a monument to them.

Read–

Carleton Place Library 110th Anniversary — Comments About the Old Library

What If Books Were Banned in the Carleton Place Library? It’s Banned Book Week!

I Wish Adults Knew —– Bad Art Night at the Carleton Place Library

Did You Know? The Oldest Library in Lanark County

Did You Know About the Rules of the Dalhousie Library? 1828 –The Library Pioneers

The Lanark Library and Florence Bowes

Carleton Place Library 110th Anniversary — Comments About the Old Library

Elizabeth Kelly — Mary Cook News Archives

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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