What was Happening at the Carleton Place Library in 1930?




Carleton Place Herald, January 14, 1930


Very often one reads or hears the statement that this is not a reading age.

Well, there may be something in it, because the distractions are many, but it is a difficult theory to prove in Carleton Place.

When Miss McRostie presented her annual report to the Library Board last week, it showed that over 20,000 volumes had been issued to readers during 1930.

Here is proof positive that our citizens are a reading people.

It is proof too that of all our institutions the Public Library is the one that gives, if not the most instruction, at least the most pleasure, to our citizens, and gives it at the least cost.

Considering the smallness of the sum the Library Board has to administer, it is astonishing the number of volumes (over 8,000) that have been gathered through the years.

Now, it is not intended to convey that of the 20,000 odd volumes issued during 1930, all were books of deep import.  Thank goodness, that is not the case.  How awful it would be to live in a town of 4,000 people who had read over 20,000 heavy works in one year!  The thing is too frightful to contemplate.

No, while there was a goodly circulation of works of Biography, History, Poetry, Travel, Science, etc., just enough to keep us from being too tiresomely high-brow, or too lamentably low-brow, it must be confessed that works of Fiction were in the majority; our people read for enjoyment, which, after all, is the only way to read.  Instruction is a by-product, imbibed unconsciously with the enjoyment.

As you may well judge, it is a big task to keep track of the lending of 20,000 books, to say nothing of the other duties of conducting the Library.  Here is where our Librarian comes in for some well-deserved praise.  Her good nature, patience and helpfulness are proverbial.  The books are so placed in the Library that they are not easily accessible to the public.  The shelves in the reading room reach to the ceiling, and there are some thousands of volumes shut off completely in the library office.  As a result, you know what happens.  We usually go in and say, “Good evening, Miss McRostie, what have you tonight that is good?”  Then follows the usual proffering of what Miss McRostie has on hand, book after book, until a final choice is made.  This system puts an undue amount of work on the Librarian.  It narrows down the choice of books and causes unavoidable delays.

The Library Board have realized for a long time that this system is not the best one, and have set out to improve it.

Before anything was done, the assistance of the Provincial Government Library Department was asked.  The Department sent down a Library expert who spent a day going over the whole set-up.

After congratulating the Library Board on the splendid collection of books we have, this expert made the following recommendations:


  1. That an inventory of all the books in the library be made, and volumes in so tattered a condition that they are unfit for circulation should be thrown out.
  2. After this had been done, the books should be put in six foot shelves and all made accessible to the public, after being reclassified in keeping with modern Library practise.


This is a big job, but the Library Board  have tackled it, and a very enthusiastic volunteer committee of ladies, under the chairmanship of Mrs. C. W. Bates, are working every day raising a mighty dust and making splendid progress.  In this work the Board are fortunate in having the help of Mrs. David Findlay, Jr., who is trained in modern library systems.

While these changes are going on, the Library Board asks the patience of our citizens.  When the changes are made the improvement will undoubtedly be great.

Mention has been made about the smallness of the funds the Library Board have to administer.  These changes, particularly the new shelving, will require a moderate amount of expense.

To provide for this, at least in part, and to increase funds for the purchase of books, the Library Board are considering holding an entertainment of some sort, at which they expect to present some outstanding speaker.  Announcement will be made about this later, and we feel sure that if anything of this sort is done, the Library Board can count on the whole-hearted support of the town’s people.


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