History of the Library
By Linda L. Palmer, Chief Librarian
The Burns Lake Public Library began humbly in a very small building in December of 1944. A chairman, Mr. Vic. Montaldi, was proposed and chosen as well as V.A. Taylor as treasurer. The first books totaling 150 were borrowed from the Prince George Library Commission. The library now has a collection of over 26,000 items. On March 11, 1946, a public meeting was held in the High School, favouring establishment of the Burns Lake Public Library Association, was duly organized in accordance with the Public Library Act. The first Board of Directors were comprised of the following: Mr. Vic Montaldi, Mrs. G.B. Wynn, Mrs. W. Wilson, Mrs. K. England and Mr. W. McKenna. It wasn’t until December, 1948 that a building was purchased from the Village for a permanent Library. Since the first building, that was heated by a wood stove with the fires lit by attending Librarians in below zero weather, the present building is the 5th home of the library.
Renovations of the current building in 1993 expanded the library to two floors with the top floor belonging to the adult population and the basement becoming the children and youth domain. 1993 was also the year that a referendum to increase funding was passed with a large majority.
1994 was the 50th anniversary of the library and a move into a new era. Automation of the library materials began with total titles of 17,500. A portable scanning device was obtained to read the bar code on each book and patron card. The project was completed by January of 1997. That same year we made our collection available for InterLibrary Loan for all of British Columbia.
In 1995 Dave and Pat Gooding donated a computer for the children’s use in memory of their granddaughter, Stephanie Gooding. This year was also the beginning of the Annual Young Adult Writing Contest that is still going strong.
Renovations began again in 1998. The basement was completely gutted and the structure was made compliant with current building code standards. A beautiful undersea mural created by Bonnie Remple, welcomes the children as they descend the stairs to enter the children’s library area. A shelving drive enabled us to purchase new shelving for the upstairs area.
We increased Internet access in 1999-2000 with computer donations from the Village of Burns Lake, Northwest Community College (Michele Cook) and the Gates Foundation. The library changes in the past 56 years have been astounding. Our collection holdings have increased significantly. To date our largest monthly circulation occured in March of 2000 with 6,239 items loaned. Progress has been marked by scrapbooks kept and expanded as each year passes. We are very proud of our library and the developments that have kept us up-to-date with other libraries in British Columbia.
Of course, none of the accomplishments could have taken place without the continued support of our community. As David Howrowitz once said, “The best thing about the library is that it is available not only to me, but to everyone. It does not discriminate. It makes itself available to those who wish to use it.”