History of the Library
In its long and determined history, the Castlegar Library has moved and expanded seven times, and all along the way the little library that started in the basement of the United Church with 200 books has had the ardent following of a loyal and voracious reading public. Now, standing today, after another much needed expansion in 2000, the library usage continues to expand. With its reputation of a welcoming atmosphere, the friendly, personal attention of the staff and its impressive collection of over 57,000 books, (one of the highest circulations in B.C. per capita), the library is a bustling beehive of activity. Usage is not the only thing that’s escalating here; with a growing membership of 7,600+, this is certainly not your typical “quiet” library setting.
The library first started out as a voiced idea in 1946, from Mrs. Len Davis who offered the United Church schoolroom to be used as the first location. The library grew quickly and the books were eventually packed and moved from the church to the community hall, then onto the Davis’ basement, and soon enough back into a larger room at the hall. After the hall was condemned in 1955, the library found its first real home; a small house that was relocated to a street behind City Hall. In 1963, Jessie Donnan became the library’s first librarian.
Another milestone came in 1967 when the Castlegar Centennial Committee constructed a new library at 117 Pine St. The circulation had risen to 24,000 by then and by 1968 a second library opened in the Kinnaird Hall. Donnan retired in 1971, and Audrey Moore became head librarian until 1976. Judy Wearmouth joined the staff in 1974 when the Castlegar and Kinnaird Libraries merged to become the Castlegar and District Public Library. She finally became head librarian in 1978 and continued her practices until her retirement in 2003. As membership continued to rise, the library once again outgrew its walls. In 1987, with Expo Legacy matching city funding and local donations, a new facility was built at the present site on 3rd St. However the money raised was not sufficient and a whole wing of 2000 sq. ft. was cut off the design, a short-sighted move that dogged the library for 13 years.
However after a successful referendum, construction began in July of 2000 on a 3000 sq. ft. building extension to double the size of the library, with the commitment of $500,000 jointly from the City and Regional District. A shortfall in funding kept the basement development on hold while the library board continued fundraising. Finally by November 2000, the new library expansion was completed, as it still continues to thrive to this day.
After Judy Wearmouth’s retirement in 2003, June Stockdale of Salmo took over and ran the library for five years.
In 2008 June Stockdale gave up her post as Library Director of the Castlegar & District Public Library to work as Chief Librarian at Nelson Municipal Library.
Heather Maisel, former Librarian of Trail Library took up the position of Library Director at Castlegar & District Public Library, commencing June 10, 2008.
In 2017, Kimberly Partanen came to the Castlegar Library from UBC Okanagan. She was Library Director until 2023.
Much of this information was sourced from the book Castlegar – a confluence, pp.173-4