Librarian Sharon Dennis

Librarian Sharon Dennis

Okanagan Regional Library celebrates its 75 year annivesary

The local branch of the ORL welcomed the public to a special celebration for their 75 birthday. Staff remembered the past and celebrated a bright future in their new library.

Funny how a trip to your local library can be relaxing and informative, but to be a source of entertainment and provide a historical experience as well?

With celebrations at its various branches including Princeton, the Okanagan Regional Library (ORL) celebrated its 75 Anniversary this past week.

The ORL was established in 1936 and serves over 360,000 people through its 29 branches.

Locally, the celebration included cake and refreshments as well as a mini-reunion of members of the driving force behind Princeton’s original library.

In 1968, local residents; Glen Cottrell, Joan Kelly and Emma Gabore began a door-to-door collection of books, acquired help from volunteers like Joann Gabriel, procured a room above the Post Office and made a home for the library until it was moved to the Library/Museum building on Vermilion Avenue. Approximately once per month, 200 books were circulated through the local library by the B.C. Library System.

On April 2, 1968, the first organized meeting of a library board was held and executive elected. Mr. Brendan Kennelly, the Government Agent at the time, was asked to chair the meeting.

In attendance were; Mr. & Mrs. R.B. McArthur, Mr. L.M. Currie, Mr. & Mrs. Frank D. Kelly, Mrs. Gail Commandeur, Mrs. Elizabeth Smith, Mrs. Joan L. Armstrong, Mrs. Majorie Reid, Mrs. A.E. Vernon, Mr. John C. Thomas, Mrs. Sylvia H. Vaughn, Mrs. Margaret Stoneberg, Mr. Gen Cottrell, Mr. Henry ten Veen, and Mr. D. Briggs.

Elected to the executive were; Honorary President – Mr. R.B. Cormack,  President – Mr. B. Kennelly, Vice President – Mr. Glen Cottrell, Secretary – Mrs. M. Stoneberg and Treasurer – Mrs. E.G. Smith along with directors; Mr. R.B. McArthur and Mr. F.D. Kelly.

Members of the board and volunteer librarians, came and went throughout the years, with a few who remained until the local library became part of the Okanagan Regional Library in 1976.

“We had to go to referendum to get into the system,” stated Joan Kelly, “myself and Margaret Cormack held coffee parties to explain the advantages of belonging to the ORL and happily the referendum passed in the village with 90% in favour.”

The library became part of the ORL in June of 1976, bringing the benefits of funding, more book circulation, more open hours and paid staff. Sandra Henson became Princeton’s first paid librarian.

Henson returned to Princeton this past Saturday to take part in the 75th Anniversary celebration, and enjoyed visiting with locals—especially those present, who were a part of the library’s beginnings. Joan Kelly, Joann Gabriel, and Bob Cormack were a few of the ‘originals’ that had the pleasure of a visit with Henson.  “It’s absolutely gorgeous,” was the comment Henson made of the new library building which opened in May 2010.

Okanagan Regional Board representative, Councillor Marilyn Harkness was pleased to attend and assist Librarians, Janis Winter and Sharon Dennis with cutting the cake. Councillor Harkness wished to extend her thanks and appreciation to local Maria Sadegur, who was the driving force in getting the new home for the library.  Harkness adds, “take opportunities to support the library—it’s one of those institutions that make us more human.”

Winter and Dennis both love the new building. “We’re more visible here,” stated Winter, “from June to December of 2010 we have received 259 new memberships.”

Our local librarians have great plans for the future including; holding mini workshops to teach on-line usage of the library and hosting open house days especially for seniors, so they can learn about the materials available i.e. large print books and audio books. Winter has taken over as head librarian. Long-time head librarian Joan Muir has retired and flown south to Mexico for a vacation.

The Okanagan Regional Library Princeton Branch is not just a quiet place to read or study, it can be accessed on-line, houses CNIB books, music CD’s, feature film and television series DVD’s, audio books, eBooks and abundance of on-line resources. During your next visit, ask about the BC Library OneCard, this membership will give you access to libraries clear across the province.


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