The Story of the Strathmore Municipal Library

Oct 02, 2019 Heather Hobma

What has your library done for you? 

This may seem like a strange question, because libraries obviously lend out books. And, if you’re reading this, you likely spend at least some time here, or at least have borrowed a book or two. But have you ever really thought about what your library does? Maybe you have a personal goal to read every James Patterson novel and your library gives you that opportunity. Or maybe you like the access to the free public computers. Or maybe you hold a grudge against your junior high librarian for making you learn about the Dewey Decimal System and have vowed to never enter another library again. Because really, what can a library really do for you? 

Past

Some time between 1945 and 1948, Samuel Crowther believed that a library was a necessary addition to Strathmore. At the time, Strathmore didn't have a library. In fact, it was a 40-year project of love by a few very (very) determined individuals just to get it started. The library you see now is a modern conception, and even more so since the recent renovations. Crowther started the committee in the late '40s, which began by collecting used books for the catalogue. They were given matched funds from the Alberta Government up to $330 a year and a $25 donation from the Town of Strathmore. Even with governmental help, the committee relied mostly on funds raised during the annual bake sales and raffles and volunteer power, which we still heavily rely on today. 

In 1967, the Town of Strathmore established the library as a municipal body, which guaranteed greatly needed per capita funding. During the 1970s, the library started collaborating more closely with the provincial government, which started funding a training program for small libraries in 1977.

During its tenure, the Library struggled to find a home and ended up moving several times: its first place was in the old town hall, but was soon moved to the Samuel Crowther School, and then into the new town office. In 1977, it moved into a shack by the Strathmore Hotel, and then moved to a slightly larger building in 1978, and then to a building on the main street in 1980. By 1982, the library board finally raised enough to move the library into a new facility, and the library/community centre, which opened its doors in 1983.

In its new home, the Library became an established institution for the Town, but what does it really do for the people who live and visit here?

Present

Do you know that the Library brings in the latest books, magazines, movies, and music? And providing unique and tailored programs and special events, most of which that are free to attend? 

Did you know, with your library card, you have access to our full catalogue and those of other libraries across Alberta? If we don't have what you need, we can bring it in for you! When you register with Me Libraries, you can borrow from the Calgary Public Library or Edmonton Public Library, and the Alberta Library gives you access to post-secondary and special libraries.

Maybe you're not really into books. Not everyone is. But do you listen to music or are you learning a foreign language or do you want to share an interactive story with your kids? With your library card, you have access to our e-resources, like Hoopla, NoveList Plus and NoveList Plus K-8, OverDrive/Libby, Pronunciator Language Learning, Solaro, TumbleBooks, and so many more. Our own patrons also have access to our eclectic Smore Stuff Collection, which includes life vests, STEAM kits, various tools, games, activities, and Audio-Visual equipment. 

Maybe you're thinking that the library can't do much for you because you don't have a library card. Don't worry; we're not an exclusive club. You have access to a number of our services even without a library card. You can rent our rooms, or write an invigilated exam, or study in a quiet space, receive technology tutoring, or use our free WiFi and public computers. You can print, fax, or laminate here as well, and then enjoy our monthly art exhibitions that highlight a local artist. And beyond our walls, you can borrow books from the Little Free Libraries posted throughout the community or join our Visiting Library program if you can't leave your house. 

We host a number of special events and programs throughout the year that are free and open to all community members, no library card needed, such as Nighttime Tales, Stitch Together, Baby Goose Rhyme Time, L’il Explorers, Crafternoon, and Budding Bookworm. Our events include book sales, Friday Fun Films, the Halloween Costume exchange, the Christmas Market, among many others.

But maybe you don't feel your library can do much for you.  Sometimes when we ask this question, we hear back. Below are just a few things our library has done for a few of our community members and visitors:

“Our family is on a very tight budget, so we went to movie night at the Strathmore Library. It’s free and you can bring your own snacks!”

“I am a mother of a preschool child. I spend most of my time tending to the needs of my child. Recently I attended a Storytime at the Strathmore Public Library and met other moms that I can share experiences with. I have made new friends and my child is learning to read books.”

“I unexpectedly lost my job after being in the same position for over fifteen years.  I did not have a computer or access to the Internet at home.  The Strathmore Municipal Library provided the ability to access required government forms to fill out Employment insurance and other documentation through the public access computers.  I took advantage of many resources including the e-Resource Career Cruising to help me create a resume and search for jobs and apply for them online.”

“I do not live in Strathmore, but I was visiting my friend who lives here. I went to the Library and was able to use the internet to connect with my family while I was away. Being able to connect with them gave me peace of mind and I did not feel homesick.”

Future

We continue to grow and expand our programs and services. Your library is and will always be the hub of access, to resources, to knowledge, to entertainment, and to literacy and education. Our mission is to provide opportunities for life-long learning to the residents and visitors of Strathmore and District. Like those before us, our staff and volunteers are dedicated to supporting the freedom to read and access to lifelong learning, to providing cultural enrichment and education, and to helping improve the lives of our friends and neighbours and help them learn and grow. There is something for everyone off all ages at the Strathmore Municipal Library.  

So, tell us, what has your library done for you?