On Saturday, October 4, the Rossland Public Library will celebrate its 75th anniversary and is inviting the public out for an afternoon of entertainment and cake. Starting at 1 p.m., Sparky Steeves will be entertaining the kids with lively music, followed by a cake cutting ceremony with Mayor Greg Granstrom at 2 p.m. and at 3 p.m., author Avi Silberstien will read from his book Human Solutions.
Drawing from a paper written by Ms. Olga Osing for the library’s 50th anniversary, Ms. Osing notes the various iterations the library has seen, including going back to 1898 when a Mr. Wallace is noted as having “1,500 volumes and all are at the disposal of the library subscribers.” It was finally on October 4, 1939, the Rossland Public Library Association was awarded their Certificate of Incorporation and began to formalize subscriptions, volunteers and board members.
Although wanting to eventually have a full building to call their own, that first Board of Directors agreed finding an immediate space was more important in order to get started. Mr. Henry Wilken agreed to rent a small part of his building, The Collins House, for $15 per month and after some “hectic shelf-building” and arranging, the library was able to open its doors in October of1939.
It didn’t take long for the library to outgrow its simple, two-room space with only volunteers to run it. In 1948, the first librarian was hired: Olga Osing. About a year after this hiring, due to rent being raised, the library board began to seek out new locations. With the liquor store moving out of the basement of the courthouse, the library board came to terms and, in November, 1949, moved into the former jail-cum-liquor store location, “complete with barred windows.”
In October, 1981, the Rossland Public Library received official notice the courthouse would commence renovations in January, 1983, and the library needed to find a new location. The vision the initial founders had for the library could now become a reality; a separate building would house a free library for the community. On June 27, 1984, the opening ceremonies were held on the stairs of the current site.
It was in 1959 the Library Service in British Columbia noted that “…the library is judged to be on of the best used and best run of the Association,” a statistic the current library’s staff and board are happy to note still rings true; Rossland has one of the highest library member rates in the province with about 50 per cent of the population holding a card.
Since the opening collection of 2,000 books in 1939, the Rossland Library has seen significant increases in items available for borrow, now housing approximately 15,000 items, going beyond books to include movies, magazines and audiobooks. When you incorporate the province’s BCOne program, card holders now have access to over 11 million items across B.C.. Locally, the biggest jumps in circulation and collection increases are found in the young adult and large print sections, however, electronic items have doubled in the last two years and continue to grow.
Chair of the Rossland Public Library Chris D’Odorico notes that, “For the past 75 years, your library has been a place to read, meet, ask questions, learn, play and dream. The role of libraries has certainly changed over the past 75 years and we have listened to your feedback recently.” Referring to significant changes coming to the library in the next couple of years, the Library Renewal Committee has been actively engaged in hearing what the community would like to see. The Committee has taken this information and engaged a contractor to create the design and plans for a remodeled building. More information on the Renewal Project can be found at www.rosslandlibraryrenewal.com.
In conjunction with their 75th Anniversary, October is Library Month and the staff has a busy time ahead. Rossland Reads will begin October 22, author Grant Lawrence will be doing a reading, the new junior (ages 8-11) book club — Page Turners — will be starting, and the Family Movie Night will commence with The Wizard of Oz as the first movie (coincidentally, also the 75th anniversary of the movie’s release). The Collecting Memories project will also be ramping up in an effort to hear the outstanding memories of the library from local residents.
Beverly Rintoul, Library Director, encourages everyone to “come celebrate with us! This is your library and it’s worth the celebration.” Echoing Bev, Chris wants you to “come out and learn about the next chapter of your library’s history and be a part of how your library will look for the next 75 years.”
For more information, please visit www.rossland.bclibrary.ca.