The Wainwright Public Library began as a volunteer organization in 1935 when a group of ladies decided that “what this town needed was a library”. With a grant of $25.00 from Town Council, a Wainwright Public Library Association was founded. The first library building was at the south-west corner of 3rd Avenue and Main Street.
With donations of books and by selling memberships to town residents, (Adults $1.00, Young Moderns .50 cents, 11-15 years old - .25 cents and 10 years and under .10 cents.) The Library expanded into first the town building and then into our present day post-office. The hours were Wednesday and Saturday from 2:00 to 4:00 PM.
In 1951, the library purchased the Prospect Valley School Building for $530.00 and after great trouble (the volunteer librarians had to give out books with mittened hands until proper heating, windows and insulation were provided through donations from bake sales, tag days and other fund raising events) with moving and installing the building in its new location at 922-4th Avenue, the library was officially opened on December 2, 1953. This building went on to house the Salvation Army Thrift Store.
Slowly, but surely the Library grew in size and again needed to move. In 1967, it was relocated to its current location in the Centennial Centre at 921-3rd Avenue. It was run strictly by volunteers until 1987 when the Town decided to approach the province to receive provincial funds and hire employees. After 52 years of volunteer service, the outgoing library board was: President - Mrs. Ivy Taylor, Acting President - Mrs. Norma Dewar, Secretary/Treasurer - Mrs. Audrey McNally and Board members: Mrs. Mabel Turner, Mrs. Lois Tennant, Mrs. Ruth Erickson, Mrs. Lula Deyell, Mrs. Bea Jackson and Mrs. Phyllis Worral. At that time, memberships were still the same rate as in 1935 and the library contained some 23,000 items.
Since 1987, the Wainwright Public Library has been run by a Board which is comprised of volunteer members and appointed representatives from the Town Council and Municipal District of Wainwright. It is currently a member of the Northern Lights Library System which allows library members access to “The Alberta Library” (all public libraries in Alberta). In addition to the traditional resources of books, magazines, encyclopedias, the library also provides its members with access to the Internet, CD ROMS, CD’s and music cassettes as well as other electronic media.
The Wainwright Public Library has undergone numerous changes over the years since it’s beginnings as a volunteer organization in 1935. The most recent changes occurred in the past two years when we moved the children and youth collections downstairs and replaced our carpet and shelving in the adult area upstairs. The front entrance and stairway has been completely renovated making it much more open and inviting.
Wainwright Public Library, Bison Printing and Star News teamed up to scan all of the Wainwright newspapers from 1908 to 2008 in celebration of the Town’s centennial. The Newspaper Archives is a searchable data base available free of charge through the Wainwright Public Library.
A concrete sign with a raised flower bed was installed on the lawn in front of the library. This was a joint project with Town of Wainwright Recreation Board, MD of Wainwright #61 Rural Recreation Board and the Town of Wainwright Library Board.