Sunday, December 04, 2022

Biography: Mary Kinley Ingraham (1874—1949)


 Mary Kinley Ingraham was the chief librarian at Acadia University from 1917-1944 at a time when very few females headed academic libraries in North America. Fittingly, her achievements include literary works as well as academic publications. As an acknowledged leader in Maritime librarianship, she was one of the founders of the Maritime Library Association in 1918. Ingraham was also an innovator: under her guidance, Acadia launched a pioneering bookmobile service to three provinces in 1930.

My biography appeared earlier in 2015 in the Ex Libris Association biography website. The image from the Acadia University archives is taken from Tanja Harrison’s article, “The courage to connect: Mary Kinley Ingraham and the development of libraries in the Maritimes” (p. 80).

Mary Kinley Ingraham

Born March 6, 1874, Cape Wolfe (or West Cape), PEI. Died November 19, 1949, Livermore, Maine, USA

Education:
1899 Graduate of Acadia Ladies’ Seminary
1915 BA (Acadia University)
1916 MA (Acadia University)
1917 Summer course (Simmons College School of Library Science, Boston)

Positions:
c.1897-1905 School teacher in Nova Scotia
1911-1913 School teacher in Massachusetts and Georgia, USA
1917-1944 Chief Librarian, Acadia University
1918-1944 Instructor, library science, Acadia University

Publications:
Ingraham, M.K. (1921). “Italian and English book collectors of the Renaissance.” Dalhousie Review 1, no. 3: 293-300.
Ingraham, M.K. (1920). Acadia; a play in five acts. Wolfville, NS: Davidson Bros.
Ingraham, M.K. (1921). “Librarianship as a profession.” Canadian Bookman n.s., 3, no. 1: 38-40.
Ingraham, M.K. (1931). “The bookmobiles of Acadia University,” Library Journal 56, 15 January: 62-63.
Ingraham, M.K. (1932). A month of dreams. [poetry] Wolfville, NS.: n.p.
Ingraham, M.K. (1940). “Sixth annual conference of the reorganized Maritime Library Association.” Bulletin of the Maritime Library Association 5, no. 2: 2–6.
Ingraham, M.K. (1947). Seventy-five years: historical sketch of the United Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. Kentville, NS: n.p.
Ingraham, M.K. (1949). “My favorite books.” Bulletin of the Maritime Library Association 13, no. 2: 1-2.

Associations/Committees:
1918-1944 Secretary-Treasurer, Maritime Library (Institute) Association

Honours:
1947 DCL, Acadia University

Accomplishments:
Mary Kinley Ingraham was a significant public figure in the development of libraries in the Maritime Provinces after she became chief librarian of the Emmerson Memorial Library at Acadia University in 1917. During her quarter century tenure she improved and expanded circulating holdings, special collections, and library services to students and faculty, even during the Great Depression. Trained initially as teacher, she saw the need to institute formal courses on library education as part of the BA program at Acadia for Maritime library students. As well, she inaugurated a bookmobile service in 1930-31 for rural Maritime readers who were not served by public libraries in three provinces. Later, Acadia operated a travelling library service for communities that continued until WW II. Ingraham was one of the founders and secretary-treasurer of the Maritime Library Association (1918-28) which continued in 1934 as the Maritime Library Institute (1935-40) and became the Atlantic Provinces Library Association in 1957. She contributed many short articles to the Association Bulletin. Ingraham also was active on the literary front, publishing two volumes of verse, plays, a history of the Baptist Women’s Union, and serving as editor for the review journal, “Book Parlance,” 1924-29. Upon her retirement she was made Librarian Emeritus.

Comments:
“The best preparation will not make a librarian out of a man or woman who has not innate fitness for the work. No one should seriously consider librarianship as a profession who does not know himself to have in his approach to books the grave, searching attitude of the scholar.” M.K. Ingraham (1920)
“Acadia University at Wolfville in the land of Evangeline, with Mrs. Mary K. Ingraham as its ‘live librarian,’ has been the most active representative of library progress in relation with the Maritime Library Association….” Mary S. Saxe, Library Journal (1927)
“Librarians who had the pleasure of knowing and working with her were charmed and impressed by her personality. She helped us to know one another better through the Bulletin. She gave us the joy at conventions of hearing minutes and reports—written and read—in her own inimitable style.” Dorothy Cullen (1950)

Sources:
Shaw, Beatrice M. H. (1924). “Maritime Librarian,” Maclean’s Magazine, 15 Nov., 37: 68-70.
Beals, Helen D. (1944). “Mrs. Ingraham Retires” Library Journal 69, 1 December, 1961.
Cullen, Dorothy (1950). “Mrs Mary Kinley Ingraham 1874-1949,” Bulletin of the Maritime Library Association 14, no. 2: 1–2.
Elliott, J.H. (1954). “Pioneers! O Pioneers! 4. Mary Kinley Ingraham.” Canadian Library Association Bulletin 10, June, 261.
Harrison, Tanja. (2012). “The courage to connect: Mary Kinley Ingraham and the development of libraries in the Maritimes.” Library & Information History 28, no. 2: 75-102.
Bird, Kym (2005). “In the beauty of holiness, from the womb of the morning: allegory, morality, and politics in Mary Kinley Ingraham’s Acadia,” Theatre Research in Canada 26, no. 1-2: 26-55.
Mary Kinley Ingraham Fonds, Acadia University Archives, Accession No. 1944.0

The Mary Kinley Ingraham biographic entry in Canada's Early Womens Writers provides extensive information on her family and literary career.

Friday, December 02, 2022

Biography: Helen Gordon Stewart (1879–1971)


Helen Gordon Stewart was an early, important influential leader in Canadian librarianship. As well, she was a recognized expert in regional library development in the southern United States where she taught at the Louisiana State Library School and worked as a consultant in South Carolina. She had an ongoing relationship with the Carnegie Corporation of New York which saw her famously promote and administer the formation of the Fraser Valley Library in the early 1930s. No less important was her work with the Carnegie Corporation and British Council in Trinidad Tobago. There is an international quality to her accomplishments that is only matched by Toronto’s chief librarian, George Herbert Locke.

I created this bio in 2018 for the Ex Libris Association website. The image at right is taken from As We Remember It; Interviews with Pioneering Librarians of British Columbia (p.16).

Helen Gordon Stewart

Born Dec. 19, 1879, Fletcher (Chatham-Kent) ON; Died April 5, 1971, Vancouver, BC

Education:
????-1908 Teacher training (Central Normal School, Winnipeg, Manitoba)
1908-1909 Library training diploma (New York Public Library School)
1926 BSc (Teachers College, Columbia University)
1927 AM (Columbia University, Social Science)
1928 PhD (Columbia University, Social Science)

Positions:
????-1908 School teacher in Carman, Manitoba
1909-1910 Children’s librarian, New York Public Library
1911-1912 Assistant Librarian, Victoria Public Library
1912-1924 Chief Librarian, Victoria Public Library
1916-1917 Medical war service in London, England, and France
1927-1928 Acting Head, Department of Sociology, Wells College, New York
1930-1934 Director for the Carnegie sponsored Fraser Valley Regional Library Demonstration
1934-1936 Director for the Carnegie British Columbia Public Library extension program
1936-1938 Acting Associate Director and Professor, Graduate School of Library Science, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge
1939 Consultant, South Carolina large county and unit development
1940-1948 Director, Trinidad and Tobago Central Library Service and British Council regional library development for the British West Indies

Publications:
Stewart, Helen G. (1911). “Cooperation among the libraries of the northwest.” In Proceedings of the third annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Library Association, Victoria, British Columbia, September 4, 5, and 6, p. 61–64. Seattle, Wash.: Dearborn Press.
Stewart, Helen G. (1920). “Regional and county libraries.” Public Libraries 25 (10): 387–388. [synopsis]
Stewart, Helen G. (1927). Adult education and the library. MA thesis, New York: Columbia University. Social Science.
Stewart, Helen Gordon (1934). “A dramatic moment?” Library Journal 59 (1 April): 306–307.
Stewart, Helen G. (1934). “Advantages and difficulties in the administration of a regional library unit.” American Library Association Bulletin 28 (9): 604–608.
Stewart, Helen G. (1934). “Fraser Valley demonstration.” American Library Association Bulletin 28 (9): 637–638.
Stewart, Helen G. 1934). “Fraser Valley library.” Ontario Library Review 18 (4): 146–149.
Stewart, Helen Gordon (1934). “Social trends.” Bulletin of the American Library Association 28 (9): 484–489.
Stewart, Helen G. (1936). “British Columbia and tax-supported regional units.” Bulletin of the American Library Association 30 (8): 692–694. [abridged address]
Stewart, Helen Gordon (1936). “Uniting a rural region.” Bulletin of the American Library Association 30 (8): 748–750.
Stewart, Helen G. (1936). “Vote for regional libraries.” Bulletin of the American Library Association 30 (3): 194.
Stewart, Helen G. (1936). “Regional libraries in British Columbia.” Library Journal 61 (20): 876–878.
Stewart, Helen G. (1936). “Schools and the regional library.” Bulletin of the American Library Association 30 (10): 927–934.
Stewart, Helen Gordon (1936). “What regionalism means.” In Papers and proceedings of the Southwestern Library Association, eighth biennial meeting, October 21, 22, 23, 24, 1936, Houston, Texas, p. 59–65. Houston, Texas: [The Association].
Stewart, Helen Gordon (1937). “Regional library development.” In Library trends; papers presented before the Library Institute at the University of Chicago, August 3-15, 1936, ed. by Louis R. Wilson, p. 87–104. Chicago: University of Chicago.
Stewart, Helen G. (1940). “Regions in perspective.” American Library Association Bulletin 34 (2): 95–96, 147–148.
Stewart Helen G. (1949). “The regional library of the eastern Caribbean.” Pacific Northwest Library Quarterly 14 (1): 27–30.

Associations/Committees:
1917-1919 and 1932 President, British Columbia Library Association
1919-1922 Member, British Columbia Public Library Commission
1920-1921 President, Pacific Northwest Library Association

Accomplishments:
When she was approaching the age of ninety, Helen Gordon Stewart was asked about using a power mower to cut her lawn. “I supply the power” she responded, a statement that sums up her entire career. She was a dynamic factor in British Columbia for three decades: the 1919 Public Libraries Act, formation of the Public Library Commission, as well as regional and union library systems were very much the results of her hard work. She was the second woman to hold the presidency of a library association in Canada, being nominated in September 1917 only a few months after Mary Black in Ontario. In the late 1920s, she furthered her education by working her way through university while acquiring a doctorate in sociology at Columbia. Subsequently, the Carnegie Corporation (New York) and British Columbia Public Library Commission selected her to head a successful project in the Fraser Valley region. After she ‘retired’ to Saanich near Victoria at the outset of the Second World War to do volunteer war work, she was enticed by the Carnegie Corporation to repeat her earlier regional successes in the Caribbean islands of the British West Indies, especially Trinidad and Tobago. Because most of her work was completed by the end of the Second World War, she is truly recognized as a pioneer in Canadian librarianship.

Honours:
1954 Honourary member of Pacific Northwest Library Association
1963 Honourary member of the Canadian Library Association
The British Columbia Library Association adjudicates the Helen Gordon Stewart Award. This award recognizes an outstanding career in librarianship involving achievements that brings honour to the entire profession. It also confers Honourary Life Membership in the BCLA.

Comments:
Howard Overend summarized Dr. Gordon’s career by stating: “Her work was a seminal force in the ruralisation of public library service in Canada and abroad, showing that a large tax-supported unit of service (a single purpose authority) was the most effective way to serve the library needs of people in several autonomous communities at the lowest cost.”

Sources:
Morrison, Charles Keith. (1950). “Helen Gordon Stewart, library pioneer.” Food for Thought 9 (6): 11–16 and 20.
“B.C. Woman pioneered libraries in many lands.” Toronto Globe and Mail, April 9, 1960: 10.
Gilroy, Marion and Sam Rothstein, eds. (1970). As we remember it; Interviews with pioneering librarians of British Columbia, p. 16–48. Vancouver: University of British Columbia School of Librarianship.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Biography: B. Mabel Dunham (1881–1957)

 Along with Mary Black, Mabel Dunham, the chief librarian at Kitchener (previously Berlin) from 1908–44, is notable for assuming a leadership role in Ontario's public libraries shortly after the First World War. After graduating with a BA in 1908 from Victoria College in Toronto, she trained at the recently formed summer library school at McGill University under the direction of Charles Gould, who was also serving as the president of the American Library Association in 1908–09. Mabel Dunham was the second female president of the Ontario Library Association in 1920–21. My earlier blog post this year covered her presidential address. Throughout her career she expanded services in Kitchener, notably for children's programming.

I originally posted this biographical synopsis of Mabel Dunham for the Ex Libris Association several years ago in 2016. The post also continues on the current ELA website. The image is taken from the The Ontario Library Association: An Historical Sketch 1900–1925 (p. 106).


Bertha Mabel Dunham

Born May 29, 1881, Minto Twp. (near Harriston), ON. Died June 21, 1957, Kitchener, ON

Education:
1908 BA (Victoria College, University of Toronto)
1908 McGill University summer school for librarians

Positions:
1898–1904 Elementary teacher, Berlin Model School (now Suddaby Public School)
1908–1944 Chief Librarian, Kitchener Public Library
1911–1912 and 1914 Chief instructor at Ontario Department of Education training course for librarianship

Publications:
Dunham, B. Mabel (1910). “Leaves from the diary of a librarian.” Acta Victoriana 33: 270–276.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1910). “Methods of reaching the people.” Proceedings of the Ontario Library Association Annual Meeting: 68–76.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1912). “The Ontario Library Summer School, 1911.” Proceedings of the Ontario Library Association Annual Meeting: 63–66.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1915). “The library and the school.” The School: a Magazine Devoted to Elementary and Secondary Education 4, no. 2: 118–120.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1917). “What is the place and use of newspapers and periodicals in our public libraries in towns.” Proceedings of the Ontario Library Association Annual Meeting: 68–76.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1918). “William Wilfred Campbell, 1861–1918: An appreciation.” Waterloo Historical Society Annual Report 6: 44–47.
Dunham, B. Mabel (Jan. 1924). “Some ‘plain’ people of Canada.” Canadian Magazine 62: 188–195.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1927). “The public school and the public library.” Proceedings of the Ontario Educational Association Annual Meeting held at Toronto, 18th–21st April, 1927: 66–76.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1934). “Kitchener (Berlin) Public Library [history].” Typescript.
Dunham B. Mabel (1937). “Co-operation in the libraries of Waterloo County.” Ontario Library Review 21, no. 3: 120–122.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1938). “Waterloo County’s library scheme.” Ontario Library Review 22, no. 3: 197–199.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1945). “The Mid-European backgrounds of Waterloo County.” Ontario Historical Society Papers and Records 37: 59–70.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1945). “The story of Conestoga.” Waterloo Historical Society Annual Report 33: 16–23.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1948). “The Pequegnat family.” Waterloo Historical Society Annual Report 36: 50–55.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1950). “Beginnings in Ontario.” Mennonite Life 5, no. 4: 14–16.

Literary works:
Dunham, B. Mabel (1924). The trail of the Conestoga. Toronto: Macmillan.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1927). Toward Sodom. Toronto: Macmillan.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1931). The trail of the king’s men. Toronto: Ryerson Press.
Dunham, B. Mabel, ed. (1941). So great a heritage: historical narrative of Trinity United Church, 1841–1941. Kitchener: Trinity United Church.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1945). Grand River. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1948). Kristli’s trees. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

Associations/Committees:
1920–1921 President, Ontario Library Association
1922–1924 President, K-W University Women’s Club (also 1932–1934)
1947–50 President, Waterloo Historical Society

Honours:
1947 DLitt, University of Western Ontario
1948 Book of the Year Medal for “Kristil’s Trees” awarded by Canadian Association of Children’s Librarians
1953, the City of Kitchener declared her birthday to be ‘B. Mabel Dunham Day’ in tribute to all her contributions to the city.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Federation of University Women administers the Dr. B. Mabel Dunham Award for female high school graduates.
Dunham is inducted as a member of the Waterloo Region Hall of Fame.

Accomplishments:
Mabel Dunham was the first trained chief librarian appointed to lead an Ontario public library. She was the third woman to be president of a provincial library association in Canada. She was the first woman to serve on a public board in Kitchener, being twice elected to the public school board. She was one of the early leaders in efforts to train and educate librarians in Ontario before World War I. She helped organize systematic cooperation to distribute books throughout Waterloo County in the late 1930s prior to the formation of a county library service. She was one of the founders of Kitchener’s Women’s Canadian Club (later president); president (and founder) of the Waterloo Historical Society; and a founder of the K-W Business and Professional Women’s Club.
Dunham wrote five books depicting the history and heritage of her region. Her first novels, “Trail of the Conestoga” and “Toward Sodom,” described the migration of the Mennonites to the K-W area centered in Berlin (now Kitchener). The “Trail of the King’s Men” recounted the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists from the United States. The “Grand River” was an exploration of a river and its surrounding countryside. “Kristli’s Trees” was an enjoyable story of a Mennonite boy and his family on a small farm illustrated by Selwyn Dewdney.
Although Dunham made no major contribution to librarianship on a national scale, she greatly influenced its development on a local scale through the force of her personality as well as making a noteworthy literary contribution to regional historical fiction.

Sources:
Kitchener Public Library holds information on Dunham and there are library board minutes for her tenure. The Ontario Archives has some speeches and correspondence as part of the Ontario Library Association records.
Banting, Constance (1928). “Mabel Dunham.” Ontario Library Review 12, no. 2: 66.
“Honour to Whom Honour is Due” (1953). Waterloo Historical Society Annual Report 41: 7–8.
Snider, Lillian (Aug. 1954). “Miss Mabel Dunham.” Ontario Library Review 38, no. 3: 221–24.
Shoemaker, Dorothy and Grace Schmidt (1989). “Dr. B. Mabel Dunham (1881–1957).” Ex Libris News no. 5: 5–7.
Taylor, Ryan (1981). “Mabel Dunham’s Centenary.” Waterloo Historical Society Annual Report 69: 13–25 [extensive bibliography].

Also, my earlier post on Mabel Dunham's address about women to the Ontario Library Association in 1921.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Biography: Mary J.L. Black (1879—1939)


Earlier this year I posted comments and excerpts from Mary Black’s presidential address at the Ontario Library Association in 1918. Mary Black was the first female president of a library association in Canada. As background for her career, I am adding a biographical piece that provides basic facts about her library career. I composed this biography for the Ex Libris Association in 2016 and it also appears on this association's website. The image above is taken from the 1908 Papers of the Thunder Bay Historical Society (p. 6) of which she was a long-standing member of the executive.

Mary Black was an inspirational force for improved library service to everyone in the old city of Fort William and its environs (today Thunder Bay). Service for people was her mantra. She was active in community and library and organizations, including the American Library Association extension services. In a time before national and provincial library associations formed across Canada, she was a progressive, regional force for librarianship, even in the gloomy years of the Great Depression.

Mary Johanna Louisa Black

Born Apr. 1, 1879, Uxbridge, ON. Died Jan. 4, 1939, Vancouver, BC

Education:
Received informal `homeschooling` in her youth
Attended (but did not complete) the first Ontario Department of Education one-month summer training course for librarianship at Toronto in June 1911

Positions:
1909–1937 Chief Librarian, Fort William Public Library
1917 Lecturer, Department of Education two-month training course in librarianship

Publications:
Black, Mary (1911/1912). “Our public library.” Papers and Annual Reports of the Thunder Bay Historical Society 3: 6–7.
Black, Mary (1913). “Books for girls.” Proceedings of the Ontario Library Association Annual Meeting: 74–79.
Black, Mary (1915). “Town survey in theory and practice.” Proceedings of the OLA Annual Meeting: 72–80.
Black, Mary (1916). “The library and the girl.” Ontario Library Review 1: 8–9.
Black, Mary (1917). “What seems to me an important aspect of the work of public libraries at the present time.” Proceedings of the OLA Annual Meeting: 30–34.
Black, Mary (1918). “Concerning some popular fallacies.” Proceedings of the OLA Annual Meeting: 52–58 (OLA Presidential Address.)
Black, Mary (1918). “Walks and talks with Wilfred Campbell.” Ontario Library Review 3: 30–31.
Black, Mary (1919). “Twentieth century librarianship.” Canadian Bookman n.s.1: 58–59.
Black, Mary (1920). “New library legislation in Ontario.” Canadian Bookman n. s. 2:18–19.
Black, Mary (1921). “Tales through the ages from the banks of the Kaministiquia.” Papers and Annual Reports of the Thunder Bay Historical Society 16–12: 8–10.
Black, Mary (1924). “Early history of the Fort William Public Library.” Papers and Annual Reports of the Thunder Bay Historical Society 16–17: 12–21.
Black, Mary (1924). “Place names in the vicinity of Fort William.” Papers and Annual Reports of the Thunder Historical Society 16–17: 12–21.
Black, Mary (1927). “Canadian library extension meeting”. Proceedings and transactions of the American Library Association, 49th Meeting: 338–340.
Black, Mary. (1928). “Adult education.” Proceedings of the OLA Annual Meeting: 61–64.
Black, Mary (1931). “Ontario libraries.” Ontario Library Review 15:132–138.
Black, Mary (1933). “Publicity for the older books.” Ontario Library Review 17: 5–6.
Black, Mary (1934). “Fort William, Ontario, Public Library.” Library Journal 59: 510–511.
Black, Mary (1935). “Ideal librarian.” Ontario Library Review 19: 125–126.
Ridington, John, Mary J. L. Black and George H. Locke (1933). Libraries in Canada: a study of library conditions and needs. Toronto: Ryerson Press and Chicago ALA.

Associations/Committees:
1917–1918 President, Ontario Library Association
1926–1934 American Library Association, member of Extension Board
1933–1934 American Library Association, chair, Small Libraries Round Table
1934–1937 Canadian Library Council, executive member (ex-officio)
1913–1928 Secretary-Treasurer, Thunder Bay Historical Society
1929–1932 President, Thunder Bay Historical Society
1916–1918 President, Fort William Women's Canadian Club

Honours:
The Mary J.L, Black Branch library, opened in 1938, was named in her honour. It was recently renovated for the second time in 2010 by the Thunder Bay Public Library at a cost of $4 million. It is one of the handful of Canadian libraries constructed during the Great Depression to continue in operation.

Accomplishments:
Mary J.L. Black believed the mission of the public library was essentially utilitarian – to provide the right book to the right reader at the least cost. Her “ideal librarian” was one who held the spirit of public service and knowledge of people alongside the love of books. Libraries should reach out to every citizen and in this regard her work with the non-English speaking immigrant population was particularly noteworthy. Her personal town survey in 1915 to identify library needs exemplified her approach to library service. On a national scale, her work as a member of the Commission of Enquiry, funded by the Carnegie Corporation and conducted in 1930, remains a lasting contribution to Canadian librarianship. In her home city, she was active in local service groups, promotion of history and local political and educational life. The poet, William Wilfred Campbell, was her cousin. She was the first woman to be president of a library association in Canada.

Sources:
Thunder Bay Public Library holds annual reports by Black and there are library board minutes for her tenure. The ALA Archives holds records of her activities and the Carnegie Corporation New York has information on her work on the 1930 Commission.

[Carson, William O.] (1917). “The librarian and library of Fort William.” Ontario Library Review 1: 92–95.
MacBeth, Madge (1918). “A bookish person.” Canadian Magazine 51: 518–520.
“Miss Mary J.L. Black is interviewed by Globe.” Toronto Globe June 18, 1927: 15.
Kirker, Ena. (1927). “The woman who put charm into a public library.” Canadian Magazine 68: 32, 41.
Abbott, Brook (1931). “An accidental librarian: Mary Black of Fort William, Ont.” Canadian Magazine 76: 18, 29.
“Mary J.L. Black dies in Vancouver.” Ontario Library Review 23 (Feb. 1939): 5–7.
Morrison, Ken (1994). “Mary J.L. Black of Fort William library.” Epilogue; Canadian Bulletin for the History of Books, Libraries and Archives 9, no 1: 13–22.
Scollie, Frederick Brent. “Black, Mary Johanna Louisa.” In: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16.
Giles, Suzette (2015). “Libraries named after librarians.” ELAN no. 57 (Spring): 6–7.

My earlier blog on Mary Black's presidential speech is also available.

 

Monday, August 15, 2022

Review — Ontario Public Libraries: The Provincial Role in a Triad of Responsibilities, 1982

Ontario Public Libraries: The Provincial Role in a Triad of Responsibilities. The Report of the Ontario Public Libraries Programme Review for the Minister of Citizenship and Culture. Toronto: Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, 1982. Executive Co-Ordinator, Peter J. Bassnett. Tables and appendices; xxxiii, 318 pp.

In September 1980, Ontario’s Minister of Culture and Recreation (MCR), Reuben Baetz, met with the Ontario Public Library Council (OPLC) to announce a two-year Public Libraries Programme Review (OPLPR). Scarborough’s chief librarian, Peter Bassnett, would be the director and work with a small intermediary group at the outset to plan the review process. The Minister believed a positive approach with abundant consultation would improve the delivery of library services throughout Ontario. The 1970s had been a time of controversy about the role of regional library services, the accountability of library boards, disputes with municipal authorities, the funding provided for libraries by the provincial government, and dissenting viewpoints about policies for future planning. Revised public library legislation was the major objective because the older statute, enacted in 1966, had not proved to be as effective as originally expected.

The OPLPR established fifteen groups in search of consensus and solutions for many contentious issues. Some groups explored general provincial concerns: policy and social purpose (1), general delivery of services (2), governmental liaison (3), provincial financing and accountability (4), and field services (5). Task groups on planning and development for technological potential (6), electronic information (13), and co-operatives and processing centres (15) addressed technical and networking questions. Special considerations for northern Ontario (7), publishing and libraries (12), and access to resources (14) required separate groups. Finally, four groups studied cultural identities and services for French languages (8), Native services (9), multicultural programs (10), and disabled persons (11). Each group was responsible for a report to Peter Bassnett, who was charged with publishing a final report. In addition, Bassnett held 20 open sessions for discussion and received 368 briefs encompassing a wide variety of issues.

The OPLPR sets its course for a year-and-a-half with the knowledge that the Progressive Conservatives under William Davis had finally secured a majority government in a March 1981 election. Four years would be sufficient to develop new legislation for libraries. The OPLPR submitted seventy-five recommendations by August 1982. By then, there was a new Minister, Bruce McCaffrey, in charge, and, earlier in the year, in February 1982, the MCR had become the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, with its Library and Community (MCZC) Information Branch relocated in the Arts, Heritage and Libraries division.

The OPLPR report, Ontario Public Libraries: The Provincial Role in a Triad of Responsibilities, was issued, mostly in microfiche to the consternation of many, by autumn 1982 for review by library boards, politicians, and librarians. The Bassnett report made clear-cut statements that cut across the entire spectrum of public library services. It found that the current provincial role performed by the LCIB or OPLC was deficient (p. 68–71). The Report indicated more specific legislation and guidelines were required (p. 93). Lack of awareness about the LCIB and OPLC and their inadequate authority had stalled communication and led to ineffectual provincial leadership. A strengthening of provincial direction within the Ministry through an enlarged staff component to plan and liaise with the library community was essential. A Public Library Services Division and a new advisory body would be required (rec. 7.72 and 7.73). Other recommendations for increased staff for data collection, French-language service, networking, services for disabled persons, aboriginal services, multicultural activity, management, and training responsibilities (p. 168–187) would permit the MCZC to deal with policies that it brought forward. Some ideas originated from background studies or were influenced by general developments such as the 1981 United Nations International Year of Disabled Persons theme ‘Full Participation and Equality.’ Assistance for non-professional staff, mostly untrained persons in charge of small libraries, was an important issue, the subject of one lengthy submission from an ad hoc group of consultants. In one case, the Task Force on Native Services, the main thrust urging the formation of a Council to oversee library services for natives at an estimated $290,000, was disregarded because the group insisted on working outside the framework of the LCIB. The OPLPR’s recommendations on northern Ontario conditions mostly bypassed the ideas from Task group 15 headed by Richard Jones, director of North Central region.

During the Programme Review, the regional role—now retitled the intermediary role—was gradually reshaped. A Network Development Office was transferred to the Ministry offices in July 1981 and some LCIB staff worked on a provincial study of union products for resource sharing in regional systems. The OPLPR was wary of multiple regional processing centres and bibliographic databanks. Task force 15 had recommended the Midwestern Region centre become a Crown Corporation. Instead, the OPLPR (p. 164–167) followed the Ministry’s internal report that recommended further study of Midwestern’s possibilities. A new path was clarified: automation and cooperative area networks were to become local level responsibilities supplemented with planning and financial assistance offered by the Province. Centralized regional acquisitions and processing utilities would no longer receive support. The Programme Review recommended intermediary involvement with basic services, such as rotating book collections, staff training, special collections, reference centres, programming for groups, and direct service to municipally unorganized populations. Some briefs authored by administrative groups emphasized long-standing issues such as resource libraries and centralized processing, but these positions were not conclusive. The key point was the Review’s statement that the intermediary role “is an extension of the Provincial Government’s responsibility and role in the delivery of public library services across Ontario” and that there were currently three types of regional service, “the northern, southern, and Metropolitan Toronto area” (p. 147–148). Northern distinctions warranted more proactive provincial library intermediaries. The southern systems were more complex, so the Review recommended a gradual phase-in over five years to one provincial agency with field offices, starting with Southwestern, Lake Erie, and Niagara (p.154–159). Metro Toronto required amendments to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act to repeal the Metro Library Board’s status as a regional library system and to authorize more sitting Metro Council members for the upper-level board. Provincial funding for the Metro Board would need an examination to determine what special purposes the province wanted to accomplish with its legislative payments (p. 160–164).

At the local level, the OPLPR made forty-two recommendations clarifying functions and management. Several recommendations would eventually make their way into the revised Library Act almost three years later in 1985. In place of standards, boards should embark on community analysis; boards should provide services their communities desired or needed; legislation for free entry to libraries and use of materials should be enacted; and services for particular groups (e.g., the disabled and Francophones) should be augmented with provincial assistance. Capital funds should be made available because only a few libraries had shared in the brief Wintario capital construction program in the late 1970s before the government redirected it to other purposes. Funding from programs such as Wintario and the Board of Industrial Leadership was important but episodic. Special funding for the creation of county-regional municipal systems and enrichment of per capita grants to northern libraries was a desideratum. Some recommendations addressed the composition of boards and their relationship with appointing bodies by affording municipal councils more control. The century-old traditional board of nine members, with the majority composed of public and separate school appointees from larger county school boards, was a leftover from the 1960s restructuring of school authorities. Now, municipal councils should make all the appointments (p. 116). In summarizing the provincial conditional grant to libraries, the Review found little change over ten years: the 1971 grant had totalled $8,552 million (20% of total support), and in 1981, $25,279 million (19% of total support). The Bassnett report recommended continuing payment of annual grants directly to boards. On the issue of non-operating boards, currently in 136 communities, the Report recommended the grant be paid only if municipal revenue matched its grant (p. 132–135). This policy, along with the promotion of larger units of service in counties and upper-tier municipalities, had the potential to halve the total number of boards.

The Bassnett report concluded by drafting a policy statement regarding public library service (p. 188–192). Ultimately, provincial goals should be:
▪ provision of public library legislation ensuring deww access and delivery of services;
▪ encouragement and support for municipal libraries;
▪ ensuring library collections reflect the population characteristics of their jurisdictions;
▪ encouragement and assistance for technological changes;
▪ development of a province-wide public information utility by networking municipal libraries; and
▪ provision of funding and staff support to achieve these goals.

The cost of expanding provincial support was not expensive: Task Group 4 estimated a 10.5% increase from $25.7 million to $28.5 million (p. 194). At the former regional levels, expenses could be reduced by 40 percent and be redirected to augment the proposed public library service division. In terms of the Public Libraries Act, the OPLPR recommended a complete overhaul. In response to the OPLPR, Bruce McCaffrey announced at the November 1982 Ontario Library Association conference in Toronto that his Ministry preferred to issue a ‘green paper’ for more discussion without any specific commitment to action, A Foundation for the Future/Réalitiés et Perspectives. This ‘green paper,’ released in December 1982, would form the basis for legislative changes. In February 1983, Wil Vanderelst, from the MCZC policy secretariat, became the new director of the LCIB, now shifted to the Ministry’s Culture and Regional Services Division. While the Ontario Public Libraries report had sought consensus on many issues, in fact, its author, Peter Bassnett, expressed dissatisfaction with the ‘green paper’ in the Toronto Star in May 1983. He felt many of his recommendations had been passed over or modified. Such was the fate of many recommendations in the OPLPR: finding consensus in the library community was an uncommonly difficult task.

There were, however, positive outcomes of the OPLPR. Municipal councils gained more control over library board appointments, thus ending a decade-long struggle. Free access to a variety materials became an important feature of new legislation enacted in 1985. The Province reiterated its support for conditional grants paid directly to library boards. The conflict and confusion about regional library boards was reduced when the province took control of southern and northern ‘intermediary’ services and began to deliver targeted policies, such as Francophone concerns, disabled programs, and improved service to indigenous communities. The review, which appeared at the same time when ‘turnkey systems’ were beginning to provide integrated solutions for library functions, proposed extensive automation projects be supported by provincial studies (p. 166). The idea of equalization of services addressed on large geographic scale came firmly into play. In fact, after almost four decades, very few changes have been made to the original 1984–85 legislation; again, one of the accomplishments that may be traced to the Bassnett report.