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History of the Library

Taken from the Salmo Newsletter, October 28, 1994

The first library service of any kind in the village was provided by the Women’s Institute, and it was usually housed in Mrs. Grace John’s home. The books, aside from those donated by residents, came on a regular basis from the Provincial Traveling Library collection, and kept until they were collected, returned to Victoria, and replaced with a new collection. These women provided a fine service, but it was limited largely to Women’s Institute members and their friends.

In 1958, in celebration of the centennial of the establishment of “The Crown Colony of British Columbia”, the ladies of the local Legion Auxiliary agreed that their special project for that year would be to found a provincially recognized Public Library Association, and Mrs. Kay Gradin was appointed as convenor of that committee. It was she who contacted key members of the community to act as the founding Library Board, which then applied for an official charter and set the wheels in motion for the organization that we have now.
But there were many small steps between then and now. The first location for the fledging library was in the basement of the Legion building. Then it moved, courtesy of the Village Council, to the old Village Hall, since demolished, on Davies Avenue, where bookshelves had to be locked between library hours and the hall shared with many other groups.

In 1969, an almost-grown-up Library was relocated to a room above the Village Office, adjacent to the Firemen’s Hall. In a short time, this space proved to be quite inadequate, and early in the following year, books, shelving, and all were moved to the building where The Coffee Cup is now. Finally there was lots of space for the growing collection and lots of workspace, but the lighting was poor, and the main room still bore the unmistakable stamp of its former occupants–the Post Office.
When the new Drug Store was built, the Library was able to move into the old Drug Store. A small group of volunteers painted the existed shelving and once more moved the books and equipment up the street to its present location. These were the most suitable premises the Library had yet found, and when the Chamber of Commerce purchased the building and renovated it to house the Museum, that work also included changes and upgrading for the Library, bringing it up to its comfortable standard.

The changes have included not only location, but also personnel. For its first few years, Mrs. Gradin was The Library. She chaired the board and served as the Librarian, as well as being the source of knowledge of operations. It was Mrs. Gradin also who recruited many volunteer workers, thereby initiating a system without which our Library could not operate.
In about 1965, a new Board was elected that assumed a position of authority, and that has been the pattern ever since. The Library Board is the body which sets policy, seeks funding, and hires employees. Over the years, a succession of very capable Librarians–Mrs. Gradin, Eleanor Likus, Kathy Pierzchaliski, Elsie Stewart, Marilynne Read, Pat Rorick, June Stockdale (Noreen Raney – Children’s Librarian), Marie Zettl, Tracey Therrien (Marianne Hansen – Children’s Librarian), Amy Veysey, Marianne Hansen (Acting Librarian) and currently Taylor Caron — have been supported and encouraged by equally capable and cooperative Board members who have volunteered their time and interest in order to create the up-to-date Library service we enjoy today.