History

In the words of Effie Harper, Merran Leeds, Fern Wiig and Kathy Davies

The Claresholm Public Library was the idea, hope and dreams of the members of the Col. Lyndon Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire,  I.O.D.E.    The dream was first conceived from a comment made by Mrs. Marion (Tom) Riddle in the mid-1930’s -
  
It is time this organization did something to justify it’s existence” and she further
suggested that the Town needed a
Library!!!
  
The Canadian Legion kindly donated the entrance room of their hall (Located south of the present Claresholm Motor Inn; light, heat and rent were free.
 
The official opening was February 1938.  All books were donated and the hours were Tuesday and Saturday afternoons.
 
 Because of the keen interest and patronage of the public it was necessary to locate more space. 
 

 

The library was moved to the Men’s Club room in the I.O.O.F. Hall, later it occupied the room south of the Men’s Club and finally it took over both of these areas.
 
The Library since Day One had been plagued with inadequate quarters, and as we expanded this problem became critical.

Having to deal with leaky roofs, cold and draughts, mice and even bats, the Board decided to start a building fund and undertake the building themselves.

When the Rotary Club got wind of this - they decided this would be a good project for them.
 
But in the meantime –
 
Rumors of a possible move of the library to the Town office was a threat which hung over us and filled us with dread.  We couldn’t believe that such a thing could happen- but happen it did - and in the fall of 1976, when the I.O.O.F. Hall was sold to speculators, we were dumped, literally, into the basement of the Town Office (now Learn-A- Lot Play School location).

T
he only thing that kept us going as we marked time during those dreadful two years, was the fervent promise of the Town that a new Library was in the works.
 
In 1977 the actual building was begun and in June of 1978 we made our big move.
 
The official opening was in October 1978.

In 1991 The Claresholm Public Library was one of the libraries to join the Chinook Arch Regional Library System at the initial stage.  Vera Mattoon spent many hours working on the steering committee to get the System underway.  We are sincerely grateful to Vera for all of her hard work and efforts. 

In 1998 the Library Board recognized that the library had outgrown its present space. They presented to the Town Council the idea of expanding the building. The town Council decided that the present location did not offer enough room for expansion.  They added to the Town’s list of “goals and priorities” to look for a site for a future library.

The services provided by Public Libraries changed greatly in the 1990’s.  Along with books in both standard print and large print, they now offered talking books to the sight disabled, books on tape (CD) to regular patrons, videos, DVD’s, maps, magazines/newspapers, a variety of programs for all ages and a whole range of technology services, including courses on searching the web.  All of these services require space, space that the present location did not have.

In 2000 the Alberta Government announced the Centennial Legacy Grant Program.   There were two main projects presented to the Town Council for their endorsement:

  • The expansion of golf course;
     
  • Building of a new library.
     

It was decided that the two groups should meet with the present MLA (David Coutts) and ask for his input.  He stated that the government was looking for communities that presented a proposal which consisted of multiple projects and that the community could demonstrate working together for the betterment of their community.

From this the Town Council asked the two groups to work together and submit a joint proposal.  They received $250,000.00 to be split equally between the two projects.

The Town purchased land from Rod Dryholm south of Amundsen Park and this was designated for the Louise McKinney Centre which would house the Community Literacy Program, Public Library and Town Archives.

The construction was started in November 2003 and we moved into the new facility in May 2004.  The official opening was June 14, 2004 with Her Honour, the Lieutenant Governor Lois Hole attending.