New World of Library Services

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

Coffee-sipping browsers, local history scholars, specific-answer seekers, general-interest readers, music lovers, and science fiends will all find a much wider range of facilities and services than has been available.

—Lethbridge Herald, October 18, 1973

After more than fifty years of service, the Carnegie library building in Galt Gardens was repurposed as the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, and the Lethbridge Public Library opened in its present location in 1974.

The library’s north and south side branches were closed and the new central library refocused its role as a community service centre. Its goals were to promote a lifelong love of learning, an enlightened citizenry and “the positive use of people’s imaginations.” Patrons could curl up in comfortable chairs to listen to records or enjoy a host of lectures, performances, art exhibitions, film presentations, author nights and continuing education programs.

The library also expanded outward, introducing a Bookmobile in 1985. The Bookmobile carried a wide selection of books including mysteries, romances, best-sellers, non-fiction material and children’s books. In 1992, the City of Lethbridge became a founding member of the Chinook Arch Regional Library System—a network of cooperating libraries that greatly enhanced access to library services in southwestern Alberta. With public Internet access launched in 1997, librarians took on the role of “cyber-guides,” helping users navigate the digital world. And the opening of The Crossings Branch on the west side in 2010 provided a second library site, which now serves a city that has grown ten times its size since the library was founded a century ago.

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.