SUNDRE - Before there was even a physical library, Sundre’s craving for access to literature was served by the University of Alberta’s department of extension.
The university program’s staff would ship crates loaded with books to rural residents, who would then share the materials with the neighbourhood.
In 1949, the first library was introduced at the former Women’s Institute building, situated near the Sundre and District Museum. It was open one day a week and closed for the summer.
Over the following decades, the library was relocated a number of times, including the former home economics portable at the school of the day in 1955 and another space beside the then municipal office in 1959. It eventually ended up in the basement of the Sundre Seniors’ Housing Development before finally settling into its current home at the Sundre Community Centre in 2006.
The current location, commonly and affectionately referred to as Sundre’s living room, has since continued to evolve and adapt to the digital age, introducing public computer stations in 2010, proving itself to be an investment in the community that pays dividends.
This year marked the library’s 70th anniversary, with about 50 people attending a celebration on Wednesday, Dec. 11 that included a scavenger hunt, a historical background on the library’s roots, a storytime with mayor Terry Leslie, a presentation from manager Karen Tubb, and of course a birthday cake.
“Literacy for children, if you can read at grade level, that is your ticket to being able to achieve at anything you choose to do,” said Leslie during a brief address before entertainingly reading a humorous story called It’s A Book, by Lane Smith to those who gathered.
“Schools work diligently to try to provide opportunities for kids,” he continued.
“But supports from a library such as this that caters to cradle to grave, all demographics with abilities for people to come in and experience literature, this is second to none. The work that you do, Karen (Tubb), the work that those who work with you do, and on behalf of a very grateful community, I thank you so much,” he said, concluding by extending to all who attended a happy library birthday.
Following some remarks from Tubb, the birthday cake was cut and served, with the evening casually winding down with a chance to socialize and share stories about the library.
“For decades the library was run by a group of volunteers. Names like Mrs. Miller, Mrs. Doyle, Mrs. Earles, Mrs. Sutton, and Mrs. Neilson show up over and over in the minutes,” said Tubb.
“The library couldn’t have existed without them. And you know, 70 years later, and still we could not manage without our dedicated volunteers!”
The library’s collection, she said, has grown over the decades from a few hundred books to more than 21,000, plus a plethora of other items available for checkout, including but certainly not limited to: DVDs, magazines, games, snowshoes, walking poles, literacy backpacks, as well as a telescope.
She added there are also a variety of programs for all ages, public computers and free Wi-Fi, as well as comfortable spaces that accommodate numerous local clubs and offer patrons an opportunity to just hang out.
“Here we are, 70 years young, housed in the Sundre Community Centre, open five days a week all year, a busy hub, looking forward to another 70 years — at least — of serving the needs of Sundre and the surrounding rural area.”