Public Library Celebration Thursday, Friday
Carleton Place Canadian, October 25, 1956
Plans have been completed for the celebration of the 110th anniversary of the founding of the Carleton Place Public Library. The event will be marked on Thursday and Friday evenings this week.
On Thursday evening, a group of boys and girls will present a play “The Marvelous Story of Puss in Boots” by Nichols Stuart Gray. On Friday evening, the public is invited to view a rare collection of early scenes marking the history of Carleton Place.
The following story of the Public Library has been prepared for The Canadian by Howard Brown of Ottawa and formerly of Carleton Place. He is an authority on events of historical nature in this area.
Public Library Once on Grounds
Of Central School
By Howard M. Brown
With the one hundred and tenth anniversary of the founding of the present community library of the town of Carleton Place being commemorated this month, some features of its origins may be recalled in acknowledging our debt to its founders. Its organizers included leading citizens of the day, whose public services were marked by the forming and administering of other of this community’s institutions which we have inherited. In 1846 this Library was established by sixteen subscribing members, and with sixteen volumes which were increased in the first year to 144.
In honoring the local pioneers who aided in civilizing this district by adult education through community libraries, the present Carleton Place library’s predecessor, the Ramsay and Lanark Circulation Library, may be given the first place in time of origin in this immediate neighbourhood. Instituted in 1829, and located on our northern outskirts when Morphy’s Falls at this site contained but a handful of village residents, it both served the citizens of the Carleton Place district until the Carleton Place library was begun and continued to operate for some years thereafter.
When the present Carleton Place library was in its first year, members of the earlier library association were holding their eighteenth annual meeting, followed by a gathering at Houston’s Inn in joint celebration of the birthday of Scotland’s Robert Burns and the anniversary of the founding of the Ramsay and Lanark Circulating Library Society. Its volumes, numbering over five hundred, were then located in the Anglican Church which stood at lot 16, 1st concession of Ramsay, opposite the Union Hall and schoolhouse at that crossroad point between Carleton Place and Clayton.
A Carleton Place Library Association notice of April, 1851, shows our town library had then been moved to the village school house, a school house built with public funds on the grounds of the present Central School in 1842 and enlarged in 1850. The 1851 notice follows in part, as a record contrasting with library conditions of today.
“The members of the Carleton Place Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute are requested to observe that in consequence of Mr. Lawson (Postmaster), from not now having time at his disposal to attend to the duties of Librarian, which he has hitherto discharged with so much attention, accommodation and civility, having resigned that office and having advised the removal of the Library to the School House as the most suitable place, to which, by the permission of the Trustees, it has consequently been removed, the undersigned will attend to their wants at such times as may not interfere with his professional duties (as schoolmaster).
They shall obtain an exchange of books on the second Saturday of each month, from 2 p.m. to 4 o’clock; and if this be required at other times, it will be necessary for them to send or bring in their volumes with a note on paper with the numbers desired in lieu thereof, observing to note always more numbers than their quota, which at the utmost is limited to four, to prevent disappointment.
The undersigned will, at his leisure, enter the numbers they get and lay the volumes aside for their call on any subsequent day. It is his desire, however, to have the exchanging confined as much as possible to the occasion of his vacant Saturday, the second one of each month. On that day a meeting of the Directing Committee is also expected monthly at the same hour and place.
To the present very valuable collection of works, which has been lately enlarged, an accession of new works ordered from New York is daily expected, the same having arrived on this side of the lines. Former subscribers who have been for some time out of receipt of volumes should consider the gratification that reading useful works affords to all members of the family, and resume their station on the role. How pleasant, useful, and improving to all in the house would it be were they to engage the young in reading aloud to the other members of the family while engaged in sedentary occupations!
There is no restriction with respect to distance from the seat of the Library, except particular punctuality in returning the books by safe hands and regular prepayment of subscriptions; so that persons at the distance of Franktown, Ennisville, or Bellamy’s, may under these circumstances become entitled to the benefits of the Library.
The Officers and Directors of the Carleton Place Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute for 1851 are – President: James Duncan; Vice President: William Peden; Treasurer: Robert Bell, M.P.P.; Secretary: David Lawson; Librarian: Johnston Neilson; Directors: George Dunnet, Duncan McGregor, James C. Poole, Thomas Patterson, Ramsay, John McCarton, Ramsay.
(signed) Johnston Neilson, Librarian.”
Two years later, in October 18, 1853, a local newspaper editorial by James C. Poole recorded and supported a proposal of establishing a News and Reading Room as an addition to the existing circulating library. A following notice of April 5, 1865, announced “the Carleton Place library will be open on Monday next, and on the first Monday of every month hereafter. Person wishing to read can on payment of 25 cents per quarter of a year.” A reorganization of the Library took place in 1883. Provincial legislation of 1895 enabled its conversion in 1897 from a subscription library, under its original auspices of the Carleton Place Library Association and Mechanics’ Institute, to a Public Library free of subscription dues. Its location was moved in the later year to the newly erected Town Hall, where it has continued to serve the public with steadily increasing facilities for the past sixty years.