Red Deer Public Library History

Red Deer Public Library celebrates its Centennial in 2014!

1914-01-01 00:00:00

Red Deer Armoury

The Armoury was built in 1914 to muster troops to the First World War. The building was converted into a Fire Hall in the early 1950s, and to the Children's Library in 1994.

1914-04-23 00:00:00

Library By-Law

"On April 23, 1914, By-Law No 363 brought the Red Deer Public Library into being.... The petition to Council had the signatures of 133 citizens, who listed their occupations from tent-maker to gentleman, the last title apparently indicating someone who had the means to live without a regular job. The subscription list was led by Edward Michener Esquire, M.P.P., who contributed $25." - from Harold Dawe's History of Red Deer Public Library, 1980. [April 23rd is also William Shakespeare's birthday, a fact that may not have escaped some members of the new Library Board.]

1914-04-23 00:00:00

1st Library Board Chair

The First Library Board Chair was J.F. Boyce

1914-05-02 00:00:00

Organizational Meeting

The Organizational Meeting of the Red Deer Library Board took place at 8 p.m. on the 2nd of May, 1914.

1914-09-01 00:00:00

The Library's First Home

The Library's first home was in the 1906 Board of Trade/Firehall Building.

1914-12-01 00:00:00

1st Library Director

The 1st RDPL Chief Librarian was 17-year-old Ina Greene. This is her 1st pay slip, dated December 31, 1914. According to the Inflation Calculator, $14.50 is worth about $320 today

1914-12-31 00:00:00

First Register of Library Members

The Register of Library Members included Mayor Carscallen (#1) and the 1st Chief Librarian, Ina Greene (#6).

1915-12-01 00:00:00

2nd Library Director

The Library's second Director was Miss Ruth Fyson.

1917-01-01 00:00:00

2nd Library Board Chair

The 2nd Board Chair was E.G. Johns, who served from 1917 to 1923.

1920-07-01 00:00:00

3rd Library Director

Mr. C. Row was Library Director for a short time in 1920.

1920-09-01 00:00:00

4th Library Director

Mr. H.R. Oram was Director from 1920 to 1922.

1922-07-01 00:00:00

5th Library Director

"Mrs. Seth Pamely was the fifth library director. Some, now elderly citizens of Red Deer remember how she censored the books which children took from the Library. The Thorton Burgess books on Peter Rabbit and his friends of the Briar Patch were quite all right for young fry, but Hop-a-long Cassidy stories were something else.... The really bad books, which no small boy every saw, were discreetly kept in Mrs. Pamely's desk. One wonders if she even let the adults take them." - from Harold Dawe's History of Red Deer Public Library, 1980.

1924-01-01 00:00:00

3rd Board Chair

J.W. Broughton was the 3rd Library Board Chair, serving from 1924 to 1930.

1931-01-01 00:00:00

Charlie Snell: RDPL's longest serving Board Chair

Charlie Snell surely set some sort of record as an Alberta library trustee. He was on the Board from 1920 to 1952, and Chair from 1931 to 1952.

1931-07-01 00:00:00

6th Library Director

Mabel Besant was until recently the longest-serving library Director. She married Library Board chair Charlie Snell.

1932-01-01 00:00:00

A famous Board member

"Kerry - his friends called him Nobby - Wood filled the position [of Board secretary] capably for fourteen years from 1932 to 1946." - from Harold Dawe's History of Red Deer Public Library, 1980.

1942-01-01 00:00:00

Creamery? Privies?

"By 1942 the Library space in City Hall was quite inadequate, and the Library began to look for better quarters. One proposal by the City, which was looking for space for 'comfort stations' for the personnel of the Air Base at Penhold and the A20 Army Camp off 55 Street, was that the old Red Deer Creamery be converted to public toilets and public library. This met with very strong opposition from the members of the Library Board who felt that, despite the rural tradition of reading in the privy, the combination of the two in a city like Red Deer was an untenable proposition." - from Harold Dawe's History of Red Deer Public Library, 1980.

1948-01-01 00:00:00

War Memorial?

"In 1948, the War Memorial Committee proposed that the Library be incorporated in the Memorial Centre, but this idea was adamantly opposed by the Library Board. The members suggested that the $35,000 which the War Memorial Committee had on hand could be used very fittingly to build a library as a war memorial. However, this suggestion was acknowledged, but not accepted." - from Harold Dawe's History of Red Deer Public Library, 1980

1952-04-01 00:00:00

A new home

"The next step was to give the Public Library a home in the old house which the City had renovated for use by the City Detachment of the RCMP, who were now the City Police Force. The City, in 1951, offered the Library the main floor of the two-storey house and the basement. The basement later was shared with Civil Defence. The single constables roomed upstairs. When they showered too generously, the water overflowed the stall and descended through the ceiling. Despite any difficulties of this sort, the Public Library was only too pleased to move into the building in the spring of 1952." - from Harold Dawe's History of Red Deer Public Library, 1980.

1952-07-01 00:00:00

7th Library Director

Miss Winnifred Alford was Director from 1952-1957.

1953-01-01 11:46:40

5th Library Board Chair

R. Beresford served as Library Board Chair in 1953 and 1954.

1953-06-01 00:00:00

First purpose-built library

Some Red Deer old-timers can remember the purpose-built library on the North Side of Ross Street, where the Parsons Clinic is today. The Library moved into the main floor & basement of the building in the Spring of 1952.

1955-01-01 11:46:40

6th Library Board Chair

Mrs. J. Eaglesham served as Board Chair in 1955-56, and again from 1960 to 1961.

1957-01-01 11:46:40

7th Library Board Chair

W.B. Parsons served as Board Chair from 1957 to 1959.

1957-09-01 00:00:00

9th Library Director

Gilda Russell was Director from 1957 to 1964.

1962-01-01 11:46:40

8th Library Board Chair

A. Allen served as Board Chair from 1962 to 1965.

1964-01-01 00:00:00

Moving to City Hall

"When in May 1962 the Mayor described the facilities that would be given to the Library at the east end of the second floor of City Hall, the Library Board was delighted. The building was ready for occupancy in 1964, and for the first time in the life of the Public Library, it had new accomodation." - from Harold Dawe's History of Red Deer Public Library, 1980.

1964-07-01 00:00:00

10th Library Director

MacDonald 'Mac' Coleman was Director from 1964 to 1984.

1965-10-20 00:00:00

Planning for the Centennial Library

"The [Centennial Library construction] project almost foundered when a plebiscite on funds for a library, at the October elections, was rejected by the ratepayers: 56.15% against it and only 43.85% in favor of the project, despite vigorous campaigning to win support by the Citizens' Information Committee. .... Before tenders were called, Mr. and Mrs. Snell... offered to donate $55,000 provided that the Library would be located on the site of the parking lot on City Square, south of City Hall. This incentive removed all objections. With an estimated cost now of $330,000, the Centennial Library on City Square was on its final course." - from Harold Dawe's History of Red Deer Public Library, 1980.

1966-01-01 12:55:36

9th Board Chair

Bob Scammell was Library Board Chair when the Centennial Library was opened.

1967-07-01 00:00:00

Centennial Library interior

What the well-dressed library was wearing in Canada's Centennial Year.

1967-11-04 00:00:00

Centennial Library Opening

"On November 3, 1967, the Red Deer Centennial Library was officially opened by His Excellency, the Right Honorable Roland Michener, C.C., Governor General of Canada." - from Harold Dawe's History of Red Deer Public Library, 1980.

1970-01-01 00:00:00

Checking out a book

Checking out a book in the new Centennial Library.

1971-01-01 12:55:36

Another term for W.B. Parsons

The 7th Library Board Chair, W.B. Parsons, served three years in the late 1950s, and was back for another long term, from 1971 to 1976.

1982-01-01 12:55:36

11th Library Board Chair

Hazel Flewwelling is RDPL's second-longest serving Library Board Chair. She was Chair from 1982 to 1990. After retiring from the Board, she headed up the very successful Literacy & Legacy fundraising drive in the mid-1990s.

1984-07-01 00:00:00

11th Library Director

John Gishler was Director for a short time in 1984.

1985-01-01 00:00:00

12th Library Director

Paula L'Hirondelle was Director from 1985 to 1987.

1987-07-01 05:48:34

13th Library Director

Bryan Huston was the Library's 13th Library Director, during 1987 and 1988.

1989-01-01 00:00:00

14th Library Director

Marilyn Corbett was Director from 1989 to 1991. After leaving Red Deer, she became Director of the Strathcona County Public Library in Sherwood Park.

1990-02-01 00:00:00

Library & Firehall before construction

A major renovation was planned in the late 1980s, to connect the 1967 Centennial Library to the 1914 Armouries/Firehall. This picture from 1990 shows the Firehall just before the Firefighters moved to their new hall on 46th Street.

1991-01-01 17:06:18

12th Library Board Chair

Chris Warren was Board Chair from 1991 to 1993.

1991-08-01 00:00:00

15th Library Director

Dean Frey became Director in 1991. He managed the fundraising and planning for the major Downtown Branch renovation in 1993/94. He retired in 2013 after laying the groundwork for the Library's Centennial and fulfilling his dream of building a third library branch of Red Deer Public Library for the citizens of Red Deer.

1993-03-01 00:00:00

Jay Ingram at the Firehall Fun Factory

Author Jay Ingram signs books after his standing-room-only event in the Firehall Fun Factory. Looking on are Larry Nash (of Severna Nash Books, and later an RDPL staff member), and Adult Services Librarian Cynthia Belanger.

1993-06-01 00:00:00

Firehall Fun Factory

In 1993 what is now the Children's Library was the Firehall Fun Factory, an open programming/fundraising space. Artist Dave More worked with a group of Elementary school kids to make this colourful creation. This door to the Firehall (built to let Fire Engines in and out of the former Armoury space) is now the west-side window in Children's

1994-01-01 17:06:18

13th Library Board Chair

Al Chan was Board Chair in 1994. He provided valuable Project Management assistance during the planning and construction of the Downtown Branch expansion.

1994-09-01 00:00:00

Opening day at the Children's Library

The big day: the Children's Library opens. It operated as a stand-alone library for nearly a year while the Link and Centennial Library renovations were completed. The entrance was through the Admin entrance on 49th Street, and there was a separate Children's Circ desk in front of the Puppet Theatre.

1995-01-01 17:06:18

14th Library Board Chair

Barbara Scammell was Library Board Chair in 1995 and 1996. All in the family: husband and wife Bob and Barbara Scammell were Board Chairs during the openings of the Centennial Library in 1967 and the Expanded Downtown Branch in 1995.

1995-09-17 14:00:00

Official Opening: Downtown Branch Expansion Project

The Official Opening of the Downtown Branch Expansion Project took place at 2pm on Sunday, September 17, 1995. Present were Her Worship Mayor Gail Surkan, the Honorable Gary Mar, Minister of Community Development, and His Honour, Gordon Towers, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta.

1997-01-01 17:06:18

15th Library Board Chair

Sheila Spence was Board Chair in 1997.

1998-01-01 17:06:18

16th Library Board Chair

Tom Stevens, a former Calgary Public Library Board Chair, was RDPL Board Chair from 1998 to 2002.

Red Deer Public Library History

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