Grimsby’s first library was located in the home of village councilor Sam Mabey whose stone house was located at 99 Main Street West. This library opened in April 1871 and was a Mechanics Institute Library and therefore funded by the federal government. However, a fire at a nearby basket factory caused damage to the Mabey house and so the collection of 1,000 books was moved to the space above the old fire hall (now the new headquarters of the chamber of commerce). Here patrons paid $1.00 for a yearly subscription to a catalogue from which they would choose books and then submit their requests to a librarian through a wicket.
How We Became a Free Public Library
On February 7th, 1900 town council approved a recommendation that from that point on the use of the library would be free to any tax payer in the village of Grimsby, as well as hiring a new librarian who would be paid $10 a month. In 1902 at an annual meeting it was decided that a committee be formed to contact the Andrew Carnegie foundation to request a grant for $10,000 to build a new public Library. When the committee did not hear back from Carnegie many members lost interest, however, their secretary Mr. Aitchison took matters into his own hands by sending Grimsby post cards to Carnegie on a regular basis. These efforts paid off when the town was approved for a grant of $8,000 to build a Free Public Library Building in Grimsby which was used for almost 100 years.
Grimsby Public Library, date unknown. Photo courtesy of the Grimsby Archives.
As Time Went On We Expanded...
During the 1970’s the Carnegie building was expanded and the Grimsby Public Art Gallery was opened in the basement. Renovations in 1977 included the instillation of a wheelchair ramp entrance, a new gift shop, and a temperature controlled exhibition and storage space and in 1978 the Klosso Eloul sculpture ‘Double is One’ (the two tipped cubes) was installed and still remains on the grounds today. (Now a nice bright blue.)
Grimsby Public Library, circa 1975. Photo courtesy of the Grimsby Archives.
Almost 100 Years Later...
In 2004 a new state of the art facility was commissioned to architects Shore, Tilbe, Irwin and Partners and Reich + Petch to jointly house the library and art gallery. It was built directly next door to the original building which has now become the Grimsby Archives. Looking out the windows of our new modern facility to the classic architecture of the old one, you really get a sense of the progress that has been made over the last hundred years.
Who We Are Today:
The Grimsby Public Library's mission is to bring information, ideas, and people of all ages together to enrich lives, promote literacy and build community. With an ever expanding number of services and collections, we strive to provide our patrons with equal access to a diverse range of books, literature & video, various cultural & educational resources, and the technological equipment & devices to help our community grow.
Grimsby Public Library Quickfacts Timeline
|1871||Grimsby's first library opens in the home of Sam Mabey at 99 Main Street West|
|1894||A fire at a nearby basket factory causes damage to the Mabey home and the library is moved to the space above the old fire hall.|
|1900||Town Council decides that the use of the library should be free.|
|1902||A committee is formed to request a grant of $10,000 from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation.|
|1910||The Town of Grimsby is approved for a grant of $8,000 to build a new public library.|
The new Grimsby Public Library opens to the public. The library is typical of Carnegie library design, notice the stone staircase which led to the front doors in the first picture, this represented a person’s elevation through learning.
The Carnegie building was expanded and also became home to the Grimsby Public Art Gallery.
A new state of the art facility was built to jointly house the library and art gallery next to the original Carnegie building.
A special thank you to the Town of Grimsby's Doors Open Grimsby team for compiling the above information with the support of the Grimsby Archives.