Public Library

The building that would become Coniston's first library originated from Victoria Mines.  In 1902, the first library was established in Victoria Mines as a result of the Department of Education's legislation.  The Victoria Mines Public Library was managed by a governing board and the first librarian was Mr. Ross.  The library received a government grant in the amount of $59.65 to purchase books and throughout the years, the collection grew as a result of additional grants and private donations.  By December 31, 1909, the library contained 1,038 books.

In 1912, after the closure of Victoria Mines, the library was moved to Coniston and established on Second Avenue.  Mrs. Ettie Cripps would become the new librarian, a position she would hold for 23 years.  The Victoria Mines Library joined the Canadian Library Association in 1930 and by this time, usage of the library had reached a point where the governing board felt it could request a donation from INCO.

Over the years, as the number of books grew, the lack of shelving space became an issue.  It was soon decided that windows would be frosted over and the needed shelving installed in front of the windows.  This arrangement lasted for many years.

On October 21, 1934, (around the same time the town was incorporated) the board members passed a motion to change the name of the library from Victoria Mines Public Library to the Coniston Library.  Soon after, with the retirement of Mrs. Cripps in September of 1935, Miss Ann Stacey was appointed librarian.  In the 1940s, Mrs. Albert Dubery took over and was replaced in 1953 by her husband following her death.  Finally, in 1957, Mr. Dubery's daughter, Margery, took over the responsibility.

In 1960, the Coniston Library joined the North Central Regional Library Co-Operative, thus enabling the library to borrow books and exchange titles with participating libraries.  This union provided residents of Coniston with access to a larger reading selection.

Finally, after 23 years of attempting to gain operating space in the former Nickel Club, the Coniston Library Board was finally granted permission to move into the building in 1965.  With this move, the Associated Library closed and all of the library assets were relinquished to the new Library Board.  On December 21, 1965, the Town Council unanimously agreed to change the structure of the library from an Association Library to a Public Library.  Council approved the establishment of a Public Library Board and soon after, on June 13, 1966, applications were being solicited for the position of Librarian.  Mrs. Mary Santi was awarded the role and on August 15, 1966, she began the task of organizing the new library in preparation for the opening.

On November 2, 1966, the library was officially opened and local students were hired to help out in the library.  The library continued to expand and thrive throughout the coming years and by November of 1972, it was once again in need of a larger building.  Vacant land at 30 Second Avenue was purchased from Nickel Basin Properties and construction began on the new library building in the spring of 1973.  By the spring of 1974, the building was complete and the library was celebrating is official opening.  The library's operating hours were expanded to 28 hours and an assistant was hired for the librarian.

The library became a central part of the community and was a popular spot for people to meet.  In fact, when INCO men went on strike from September 1978 to May 1979, many obtained their first library memberships and frequently visited the library to conduct home repairs, work on hobbies, or talk about hockey.

Today, the Coniston Public Library is part of the Greater Sudbury Library.  As such, residents of Coniston have access to hundreds of thousands of books from libraries throughout Greater Sudbury, and can also borrow materials from libraries throughout Canada through the Inter-Library Loan Program.


Material compiled from The Coniston Story II.

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