Library History

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    The Mechanics Institute in 1871 was the first library, located in the Jones block, later in Campbells book store after the 1886 fire and then moved to the Livingston Block until 1912 when the Carnegie Library was built.  Andrew Carnegie was a Scots industrialist who made a fortune in the U.S. and decided to fund public education and in particular libraries.  There are still many Carnegie Buildings across the British Commonwealth Dominions and in the States to this day.  Ontario applied for and received the third largest number of grants and Forest received three million dollars when a committee headed by Major Livingston applied.  Built by Mr. Charles McCordic in 1912 for the sum of four thousand, seven hundred, and sixty-five dollars it housed the Library until 1986 when the new Station Library was completed.

    In 1934 Forest joined the Lambton County Library Association which became in 1946 Lambton Co. Library Co-operative until 1967 when the present Lambton County Library System was formed under chief librarian Ron Baker.  Circulation began to grow as readers became aware of more services, access to more books through inter library loan service and request services.  Early in 1976 the current librarian Madelaine Wallace began and later that year Catharine O'Donnell became Assistant and more importantly STORY LADY for the childrens Story Hour.  This program proved to be exceedingly popular to the extent we now have 4 instead of 1 session and contributed to the continuing rise in circulation.  Sandy Burkhart completed our staff in 1982.

    The constant climb in circulation made it obvious more space was needed, plus a demand for a single level building for people not able to climb steps.   An active library committee, chairman Gordon Minielly, Dep. Reeve Roger Harrington, Garfield Griffiths, John Hoyle, Leigh Crozier, John Byrne and Ron Murray spearheaded the move for a new library.

    Finally in November 1985 with full support of the Rotary Club, Leigh Crozier chairman, the construction began on the old railroad station site with original plans from the Ottawa archives.

    Moving day February 26, 1986 we had lots of help from Mayor Ronn Dodge and Town Hall Staff, town works crew under Syd Cook and Alvin Stewardson plus County Library staff, but it proved to be a big job and opened for business March 3rd.

    Several jobs remained to be completed including the moving of the caboose and the landscaping by Toronto designer Patrick Li. E.D.A.  The Grand Opening and reception was held May 16, 1987 on a beautiful sunny day, attended by Dr. Lily Munroe Minister of Culture, Syd Fraleigh M.P. and David Smith M.P.P and Mayor Ronn Dodge, Warden Joe DeDecker and other local officials entertained by the Forest Excelsior Band with everything completed.

    Circulation continues to grow from 1976-25,205 to an impressive 45,360 in 1986 and as we move closer to getting computers we expect that more people will discover more things at "your" library.

- Forest And District Centennial 1986.

 


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