Establishment of the Lethbridge Public Library

A photo of an exhibit panel in the  Connecting Community: 100 Years of the Lethbridge Public Library  exhibit

A photo of an exhibit panel in the Connecting Community: 100 Years of the Lethbridge Public Library exhibit

In this city we have hundreds of young people who have nowhere to go in the evenings after the work hour where they can improve their minds and develop a taste for the finer and higher things of life.

—Lethbridge Herald, June 8, 1909

After years of lobbying by citizens, the Lethbridge Public Library opened its doors in August 1919. The library was first set up in temporary rooms in the YMCA with a collection of approximately 3,000 books donated by city residents. Within a few months, Hazel Bletcher became the city’s first professional librarian, a position she would hold for more than three decades.

In 1922 the Carnegie-funded library was finally completed at the south end of Galt Gardens. Some criticized it as an architectural monstrosity that blocked an otherwise beautiful view of the park. Still, the library became a busy place for community meetings and curious minds. In addition to serving local patrons, librarians mailed carefully chosen books to rural readers who could not explore the stacks themselves.

An especially valued feature of the library was the children’s section. As one patron recalled, “When summer holidays came along we could sign out four books at a time. Sometimes I had one read before I walked all the way home… That five cent library card was a ticket to the world of excitement, and adventure.”

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.