History of GSPL

Sudbury's continuous library history dates from 1912, however, a library did exist many years earlier. The tiny library operated in one room in the Johnson-Washburn block. Little is known of the library after 1897, but from scattered records remaining, it seems obvious that it withered away from lack of financial support.

Association Library

Miss McLean & Kay James holding sign: 50 years of library serviceThe second phase of library history in Sudbury was initiated in January 1912, by the Local Council of Women. A Library Committee, consisting of Mrs. Viola I. Fournier, Mrs. R. R. McKessock and Mrs. Robert Martin, was appointed. A petition was circulated among the townsfolk to secure local support for the project. A petition dated February 8, 1912, contains 26 names, and a later one, dated March 1912, with the names of 135 citizens willing to pledge amounts ranging from $1 to $50 for the library. An Association Library was opened on April 10, 1912, in one room in the Huron Chambers on Elm Street. It was still not a public library, since its members paid a fee, but it was the beginning of a library that was to flourish and grow with the community that sponsored it.

Moving Around

In 1917, it left its first home in the Huron Chambers for a new one on the second floor of the Post Office building. By that time readers had access to 900 books, and membership was free to any resident of the town. By 1925, the needs of a growing membership prompted the renting of an adjacent room at $12 a month. The library remained in the Post Office building until 1932 when it made its second move, this time to the second floor of the C.P.R. Telegraph building on Elgin Street. The library that had begun so proudly with 400 volumes now had more than 7,000. That the new quarters were being used to the maximum is evident from a suggestion in the minutes of 1932 "that the Juvenile section be closed in the evenings so that the chairs in the room can be used in the reading room". After ten years on Elgin Street, larger and more commodious accommodation was rented in the new McLeod building on Cedar Street.

A Permanent Home

colour photo of library in 1949In 1949 the crucial problem of a site for a library, and funds with which to erect it, were settled. A gift of a piece of property adjoining one owned by the Library Board on MacKenzie Street, was received from the W. E. Mason Foundation, and a plebiscite approved debentures for the construction of a library. The Library Board's problems were not yet over, for the lack of money dictated drastic reductions in the planned structure. When it seemed that the new library might open without furniture and very little shelving, members of the Library Board and a few staunch supporters carried on a zealous campaign for furnishings.

Official Opening

Forty years of effort were finally crowned with success on September 24, 1952, when the city's first library building was officially opened. In 1977, a decision was made to split the Reference and Adult Services into two physically and organizationally separate sections, with the Reference Department moving to Civic Square.

colour photo of main library in 1998

The Main Library was completely renovated in 1998, and saw the return of the Reference department back to the Main Library.

In 1961, the Bookmobile service was launched. In 1984, the Bookmobile was taken off the road.

Expansion

In 1966, the W. C. Sinclair branch was opened in the New Sudbury Shopping Centre, and in 1996, this branch moved to its newly constructed building on Lasalle Boulevard. In 1973, the Copper Cliff Library became a branch of the Sudbury system when regional government was introduced, and the Regency Mall branch opened to provide library services to the south end of the City. The Regency Mall branch moved to the Cedar Pointe Mall in 1983 and then in 1992 across the street to 1991 Regent Street South, and in 2002 the Library bought the building that houses the South Library.

Amalgamation

With the introduction of amalgamation in the City of Greater Sudbury, the library system grew from four locations to fourteen locations in the year 2000. The citizens of Greater Sudbury had access to library services and programs at the following library locations: Main, Azilda, Capreol, Chelmsford, Coniston, Copper Cliff, Dowling, Garson, Levack-Onaping, Lively, New Sudbury, South, Lively, Valley East and Walden West. Unfortunately, in March 2003, the Walden West branch closed its doors for good. Today, the Greater Sudbury Public Library services an area approximately 3,600 square kilometers and a population estimated at 165,242.

Chief Librarians of Greater Sudbury Public Library

Name:

Dates:

Miss Agnes Thomson

1912 - 1937

Miss Charlotte Douglas

1937 - 1946

Miss Isobel McLean

1946 - 1965

Mr. Peter Hallsworth

1966 - 1992

Ms. Marian Ridge

1992 - 1998

Ms. Caroline Hallsworth

1998 - 2000

Mr. Ron Henderson

2000 - present