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Weyburn, Saskatchewan, (Fighting for) Library Service, 1905 – 1930. by Kam W. Teo Adventures in Canadian Library History Library History Network, Winnipeg,

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Presentation on theme: "Weyburn, Saskatchewan, (Fighting for) Library Service, 1905 – 1930. by Kam W. Teo Adventures in Canadian Library History Library History Network, Winnipeg,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Weyburn, Saskatchewan, (Fighting for) Library Service, 1905 – 1930. by Kam W. Teo Adventures in Canadian Library History Library History Network, Winnipeg, 1 June 2013

2 Outline (Part I) The Creation of Library Service in Weyburn: 1905- 1919 Mechanics’ and Literary Institutes. Saskatchewan’s Establishment of Free Libraries Legislation. Population and economic boom (1900 – 1920). Mr. A. Kennedy (founder), City Hall (1914) and the Great War (1914-1918).

3 Outline (Part II) Weyburn Public Library: the first decade (1920-1930) Library board (and board responsibilities). First librarian. Relationship with City Hall and the province. Library policies, promotion, memberships, circulation.

4 Outline Part III Research Challenges & Conclusions

5 Part I Weyburn Mechanics’ and Literary Institute 1906- 1911? (located in Assiniboia School)

6 The Creation of Library Service in Weyburn: 1905-1919 Mechanics’ and Literary Institutes began in Great Britain in the early 19 th century in order to educate “young working men and promoting their moral and social improvement.” Originally, meant for “working class young men” over time Mechanics’ Institutes became organizations of (and for) establishment figures in communities throughout Canada.

7 Legislation – Northwest Territories (Future provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta) (1890) In order to create a Mechanics’ and Literary Institute: A minimum of 30 men to pay a dollar; (during an era when the average worker earned $375 a year) Have evening classes to instruct “students”; Establishment of a reading room. (a club that does not lend library books)

8 Weyburn Mechanics’ and Literary Institute (1905) Originally located in a public school, some of its original dues paying members included the mayor, local MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly), and a lawyer. Newspapers and magazines included: Toronto Daily Globe, Manitoba Free Press, Strand, and Illustrated London News. Open Monday’s and Wednesday’s from 4 – 6 pm.

9 Saskatchewan: Establishment of Free Libraries (1906) Public libraries to be created by a petition of 10 percent of municipal residents followed by a by-law supported by 60 percent of qualified voters. A library board (appointed by a municipality) responsible for submitting a budget, buying materials, and maintaining the library. Library to be maintained by an annual levy with material expenditures to be matched by the province.

10 Weyburn and southeastern Saskatchewan In 1901 Weyburn (became a city in 1913) had a population of 113 grew to 2,210 a decade later. Saskatchewan became a province in 1905. From 1896 to 1914, 600,000 Americans entered what is now Alberta and Saskatchewan.

11 Courtesy of promotion of cheap land which was part of the immigration policy of the Laurier government to recruit European and American immigrants to the prairies. Immigrants from Europe or the US arrived via the Soo Line railway that begins in St. Paul, Minnesota, going through Estevan, SK., Weyburn and Moose Jaw.



14 A. Kennedy (founder of WPL) Mr. A. Kennedy was a superintendent of public schools in Weyburn including the school that housed the Weyburn MLI. Told (in 1911) by town officials that the there would not be a public library unless there was a new City Hall. In 1914, the teacher became a founding member of the original Saskatchewan Library Association and applied for Carnegie funding (which fell through).

15 Carnegie Library US industrialist Andrew Carnegie believed that public officials needed both (private sector) financial incentive and popular sentiment to push for govt. funding of libraries. Incentive offered: a library building to communities contingent on localities’ ability to maintain a library with public funds. Branch of Regina Public Library (1912) North Battleford Public Library (1917)

16 1914-1919 There was no correspondence available from 1914- 1918, (Saskatchewan Archives Board) which lead to my conclusion that the Great War got in the way of building a library in Weyburn. In 1919, A. Kennedy placed pressure on both the City of Weyburn and the province with the latter promising a provincial grant for a library. Weyburn Public Library created in January 1920.

17 Additional context for the creation of the Weyburn Public Library (and public libraries generally in SK): In 1901, the literacy rate in what became SK was 65 percent; by 1921, this had risen to 87 per cent. Women fought for right to vote in Saskatchewan in 1916.

18 Part II: Old Weyburn City Hall (1914-2002) Weyburn Public Library on 2nd floor (1920-1964)

19 Weyburn Public Library: the first decade (1920-1930) Initially a reading room only and not a circulation library. Caretaker at City Hall hired to “supervise” the library at $15 per month. Contrast: board agreed to spend $175.00 for the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Budget for 1921 for materials was $1,000.

20 Foundation of WPL collection came from the Weyburn Mechanics’ Literary Institute. Magazines bought included: Ladies’ Home Journal Country Gentleman Popular Plant Engineering Library Journal

21 Board members (1920) W. J. Jolly (chair 1921-1929) Muriel Miller (secretary-treasurer and spouse of a lawyer) A.W. Massey (school principal) John Marshall (school principal) Book & finance committee : A. Kennedy (founder of WPL & supervisor of Weyburn area schools & board member in 1925)

22 Board Responsibilities Selected by and reported to Weyburn city council. Oversight of finance and book committee. Purview of the board to handle correspondence (grant applications) dealing with financial issues throughout the 1920s.

23 1923 John Henry Leggott, first librarian. (with previous experience at the library of the Saskatchewan legislature and was, perhaps, in his 70s). Weyburn Public Library becomes a lending library.

24 Paternalistic promotion of the Weyburn Public Library Every intelligent person readily admits that a good library is one of the great assets any community can possess... [and that society’s] intellectual and moral progress is largely dependent on the use we make of good books. Context of the times: ALA report from the 1920s stated that public libraries should be centres of “community intelligence service” and that staff should have a “college teacher’s familiarity with the literature.”

25 Asking for donations! while grateful to those who have generously responded to the appeal [for book donations the library board] ventures to hope that a considerable portion of the citizens will evince their interest in this movement.... Women were more involved in starting libraries in SK with members of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE) being the most prominent organization pushing for libraries.

26 Throughout the early 1920s donations in the form of cash or second hand books came from: Rotary Club Young Fellows’ Club Women’s Christian Temperance Union Knox Presbyterian Church IODE Weyburn Security Bank

27 Library policies of the 1920s Weyburn residents had to pay initial fee of 10 cents for membership plus five cents annually to renew that membership. Non-residents had to pay a two dollar refundable deposit to use the library. Formal woman’s dress and formal shoes can be bought with two dollars.

28 Library Open Hours (mid -20s) Newspaper room 10 am to 10 pm Monday to Saturday Reference Room 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm (Monday to Saturday) Tuesday & Friday evenings 7:30 – 9:30

29 All borrowing customers had to be fourteen years of age or older. Books could be borrowed for 14 days with special “seven day books” to be designated by the librarian. Fines for overdue books: two cents per day up to a maximum of fifty cents.

30 Historical (and literary) tie-ins from Weyburn and establishment figures to add colour and context to paper. Here was the least common denominator of nature, the skeleton requirements simply, of land and sky – Saskatchewan prairie.... It [Weyburn] was made up largely of frame buildings with high peaked roofs... We were all headed for the Little Souris [River] for our first swim of the year. Naked, of course, and watched by several outpatients from the provincial mental hospital just upstream from our swimming hole.


32 W.O. Mitchell (1914-1998)

33 Weyburn Mental Hospital Built in 1920 (ca. 1940s)

34 Library Board (and Weyburn establishment) In 1925, board chair, W. J. Jolly, ran for the federal liberal nomination for MP. Jolly lost, but if he had won he would’ve run against conservative Thomas Hilliar, the spouse of board member, Grace Hilliar. Secretary-Treasurer of the board, Muriel Miller, was also married to M.A. Miller, executive member of the liberal party in the area.

35 other establishment figures that were board members H.O. Powell (mid-1920s) founder and director of the only bank founded in SK (in Weyburn). R.M. Mitchell, director of the Mental Hospital, city councillor, former speaker of the legislature and MLA. And they all went to the same church....

36 Knox Presbyterian Church

37 Grace Hilliar (ca. 1910s) & H.O. Powell (ca. 1940s)

38 Population Weyburn Estevan Moose JawRegina 1901 113 181 1,158 2,249 1911 2,210 1,981 13,823 30,213 1921 3,193 2,290 19,285 34,432 1931 5,002 2,936 21,299 54,209

39 Membership Numbers 1924 – library had 439 members. 1926 – library had 1,171 members. 1928 & 1929 – library had “approximately” 800 members.

40 Circulation Numbers 1926 – 12,662 books borrowed. 1927 – 11,434 books borrowed. 1928 – 12, 343 books borrowed. 1929 – “over 13,000 books” were borrowed.

41 Number of books in the WPL 1924 – 1,666 1927 - 2,605 1928 – 2,800 fiction; 200 non-fiction

42 Research Challenges & Conclusions

43 Research Challenges Microfilm of the Weyburn Review (founded in 1908) only available from 1920 onwards. Could only read headlines from 1923-1924 Weyburn Review (important formative years) Greatest number of documents at SK Archive Board were from the early 1920s. Correspondence in the library only goes back to 1960.

44 Saskatchewan Archives Board Created in 1945 by the government of Tommy Douglas. Before leaving office in 1944 the Patterson government culled materials from the legislative library (original archives). Historians and other researchers have noted the gaps in government documents from the 1930s. Today, research @ SAB now limited to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

45 From 1925-1930, except for annual reports and a rare event, Weyburn Review no longer reported on the Weyburn Public Library. Great dependence on board minutes. This evidence (or lack thereof) meant that the library was no longer in danger as a public institution.

46 Conclusion In the 1920s, library survives with the library board working closely: Weyburn, province, and (donations) local partners. Improved relations with city and province coincides with economic (and population) growth. Library board and librarian promoted library use and asked for donations of money and books (via the Weyburn Review).

47 Questions? Comments?

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