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Tuesday, 02 January 2018 14:14

Swift Current library celebrating 100 years in 2018

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The Swift Current Branch Library has been located in the R.C. Dahl Centre since 1974. The Swift Current Branch Library has been located in the R.C. Dahl Centre since 1974. Matthew Liebenberg/Prairie Post

The Swift Current Branch Library will be celebrating 100 years of service to the community in 2018, and residents are invited to be part of the festivities during the year.

 

“We're spending the year of 2018 celebrating the anniversary,” Branch Library Manager Andrea McCrimmon said. “We'll be looking back on the past and looking at all the changes that have happened, and also looking towards the future. I think it's a really good opportunity to talk about how libraries are so important in our community and all the benefits people really find from them.”

The involvement of the community will be an important part of the library's centennial celebrations. As a start, the 100th birthday celebration committee is asking community members to share their memories about the library.

“We are trying to gather stories and pictures and any memorabilia that people may have, but we're particularly interested in people's stories,” she said. “So it could be things like library events or programs that people have been involved in, stories about how the library was important in their lives, changes that people have seen over the years – so changes to services, how things are done, changes to the collection, changes to programs. We're trying to gather photos, news clippings and any other items that people may have that we can borrow and return to them.”

People are welcome to submit their own memories or recollections from other family members about the library. It can include details about library involvement as part of a service club or as a volunteer, or as a former or current staff member, or as a former local board member or councillor.

“It would be wonderful if people could write their memories down, and they can either drop it off, mail it to us, or send us an e-mail, or they can submit it through our Facebook page or our Twitter account, using the hash tag #swiftcurrentlibrary100,” she said.

The library will use these memories, stories, artifacts and photographs from community members as part of a 100 year birthday celebration in May 2018.

“We are planning a number of events,” McCrimmon mentioned. “We're looking for help on our 100th birthday committee. So if people are interested in helping plan the 100th anniversary, they're welcome to join the committee.”

Several events will take place to highlight and celebrate the library's centennial. There will be an official proclamation of library week during a council meeting at City Hall on April 23, and Swift Current Library Week will be from April 30 to May 5.

The activities during the week will start with a flag raising at Market Square on Monday, April 30. A certain highlight during the week will be the official 100th anniversary birthday party at the library from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 5.

The history of a public library in Swift Current started on May 14, 1918, when a reading room opened in City Hall.

“It was through the efforts of community patrons and service groups, and now it's the biggest library in southwest Saskatchewan,” she said.

In 1921 a fire broke out at City Hall in the area where the library was located, and many books were destroyed. In 1929 the library moved to the basement of a school building, but it took a while before the library had its own standalone building.

That only happened on Nov. 8, 1950, when a new library building opened next to Beatty Collegiate Institute on what is now the Great Plains College campus. It was a very small building and it does not exist anymore.

“The need for additional library space has been a constant issue off and on for a hundred years, but mostly it's been a real struggle to have enough space,” she said.

The library moved to its current location after the R.C. Dahl Centre opened in July 1974, where it shares space with the Art Gallery of Swift Current. This building was expanded in 1990 to provide the library with additional floor space.

“So moving to this building allowed the library to start doing more special events, have a photocopier and introduce record and tape material, have a children story hour and keep children's films, receptions, and lend more material,” she said. “It also allowed us to start doing special services to senior citizens and homebound patrons, and of course we have a meeting room now.”

One of the events planned during the library's centennial year will be related to a decision taken by the library board in 1923, when a resolution was passed to remove the book “The Sheik” by E.M. Hull. This best-selling book was a precursor to the modern romance novel, but at that time it was viewed as a scandalous story.

The book will be the focus of an event hosted by the Swift Current Branch Library during Freedom to Read Week, a national event that takes place from Feb. 25 to March 3 in libraries across Canada.

“Freedom to Read Week brings attention to issues around intellectual freedom and challenges to books and reading material, and in 1923 the library board passed a motion to ban the book,” she said. “So I think on the occasion of our 100th year anniversary it's a really good opportunity to go back and look at that book and discuss why it was banned.”

During this event there will also be a screening of the silent movie “The Sheik” that was based on the book and starred the actor Rudolph Valentino, who was very popular during the silent film era.

McCrimmon is hoping that residents will get excited about celebrating the library's 100th anniversary in 2018.

“The library is only possible because of the support of the community and the City of Swift Current, and everyone who visits and uses the library,” she said. “So it's a celebration not just of the library, but it's something that the community has build together.”

The library will start a trivia contest in January as a way to make people aware of the centennial celebration and to increase their interest in the library's history.

“We'll be having a series of trivia questions that we'll be releasing every month until our anniversary in May,” she said. “So people can watch our Facebook page for the trivia questions and then they can come down to the library and find the answers to the questions and enter to win some great prizes.”

Anyone who wish to volunteer to help with the arrangement of celebration activities or who have suggestions for the centennial celebrations can contact the library at 306-778-2752 or send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
Read 562 times Last modified on Tuesday, 02 January 2018 14:22
Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer