Branching Out

A panel from the  Connecting Community: 100 Years of the Lethbridge Public Library  exhibit

A panel from the Connecting Community: 100 Years of the Lethbridge Public Library exhibit

Existing library facilities are totally inadequate, and we are in desperate need to expand.

—Mayor J.A. Jardine

During the Depression years in the 1930s usage of the Lethbridge Public Library boomed. By mid-century, the library was bursting at the seams with an influx of new residents to the city and a baby boom underway. The City proposed an elaborate new Civic Centre, but the library was dropped from the plans. Instead, a small extension was added to the existing facility in 1951.   

To meet continuing demand, the library opened a North Branch (1956) and a South Branch (1961). The library’s North Branch was first established at 422 13 Street N, and was open two afternoons and evenings per week plus Saturdays. The Branch moved to Westminster Shopping Centre in 1969 and closed in 1973, just ahead of the new central library opening.

The library added a film service and audio-visual collection in 1948 and records in 1949. They also provided access to National Film Board collections, traveling art exhibitions and subscriptions to over 100 magazines. During the 1950s and 60s, the Lethbridge Public Library expanded its children’s services to include films, story hours, puppet shows and tours to encourage lifelong library use and a love of reading.

These efforts helped secure the Lethbridge Public Library’s place in the community. By 1965 the circulation of adult and children’s books reached an all-time high, putting Lethbridge among the top five centres in Canada for per capita reading.

Connecting Community: 100 Years of the Lethbridge Public Library is an exhibit currently showing at the Galt Museum & Archives until June 2. Come learn more about the history of the public library system in Lethbridge exploring artifacts, photographs, and stories.