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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Toronto’s Free Library: Facts for the Citizens (1881) by John Taylor

Toronto’s Free Library: Facts for the Citizens by John Taylor. Toronto: n.p., signed 25 October 1881,  4 p., tables.

John Taylor was born in Leek, Staffordshire, England, in 1841. He came to Canada as a teenager with his family when he was fourteen. His early business training was with Taylor Brothers, paper makers, a firm that was at the forefront in an expanding paper industry based on the use of wood pulp. After leaving the firm, John ventured into the commission business with J.L. Morrison. He eventually established his own major factory specializing in the manufacture of soap, John Taylor & Company, on the Don River.

Taylor became a director of the Toronto Mechanics' Institute in the 1870s, showing an interest in the welfare and education of working people. He was treasurer of the Institute in 1880. He was also a member and president of the St. George's Society which sought to assist immigrants and those in need.  He also entered the arena of politics, serving as an alderman and school trustee. By 1881, he was becoming a promoter of a public library in Toronto with the publication of a short booklet, Toronto’s Free Library. Along with John Hallam, Taylor became a leading exponent of free library service for Toronto residents, although their ideas were not entirely in unison despite the Grip illustration caption from March 25, 1882.

Taylor's small tract begins with a statement that Toronto was in need of the intelligence a free library could provide for its future welfare and good government. Taylor, like his friend John Hallam and many others, believed in cultural accessibility and the communication of ideas to society through systematic education. Books and magazines could help explain the organization and processes of government and help explain current issues. Libraries could also provide resources to study social conditions. Already, in the United States and Great Britain, libraries were in operation affording free reading to thousands of people. Taylor offers examples of libraries in America, Britain, France, and Australia to buttress his point and, to counter skeptics, asserts that "it must not be taken for granted that reading for amusement is the sole aim of a rate-supported library." As well, he offers another argument based on his view of democratic political life in North America:
Free libraries are certainty not so numerous in Great Britain as in the United States. Class distinction is much more clearly marked in the Old World than on this side the Atlantic, and that same wave of democracy that has done so much to merge classes and creeds among our neighbours will no doubt in time reach the Dominion without necessarily weakening the loyalty of the people."
Taylor, like his friend Hallam and most Ontarians, was reluctant to disassociate his promotion of libraries from the preservation of the British connection. He was more concerned with a practical scheme for Toronto.
There are two feasible methods of establishing a library from municipal funds. One plan—advanced by my colleague in the Council, Alderman Hallam—is to forestall and fund a portion of the rate so as to erect handsome and suitable buildings at once and fill (or partially fill) them with say 60,000 or 80,000 volumes the first year. The other plan would be to commence on a more moderate scale and spend the money in books, etc., as it is granted. Either way would secure a grand result for any corporation availing itself of the Act. I would advance such an establishment that the maintenance thereof would not exceed $5000 a year for Librarian, Assistants, Caretaker, gas, etc., so that the purchase account for new books, periodicals and newspapers may be as large as possible.
Taylor even suggested a civic museum could be established with the free library and that the cost to a small householder would only be about twenty-five cents a year, the price of one dinner at a farmer's hotel! At civic elections held at the start of the new year, in January 1883, Toronto's ratepayers voted in favour of the ballot question to establish a library thereby authorizing the city council to establish a bylaw for its creation. Like his aldermanic counterpart, John Hallam, does not reference the term "democracy."  He is content to postulate that the library would ultimately contribute to a better-educated citizenry.

Taylor's contribution to the establishment of Toronto's free library was satirized by Grip on December 2nd, 1882. In time, Taylor, and other directors of the Toronto Mechanics' Institute, came to favour a third option, i.e., the transfer of property belonging to the Institute to the municipality for free library purposes according to Ontario's 1882 Free Libraries Act. On 29 March 1883, at a special general meeting, the Institute's directors (which included Taylor) voted to transfer all its property (and liabilities) to the city of Toronto. Later, on 20 June, the transfer deed giving legal effect was executed. The institute formally reopened on 6 March 1884 as Toronto's free library on the corner of Church and Adelaide Streets. John Taylor served as chair of the new Toronto Public Library in 1885 and continued on its Board of Management until January 1900.

John Taylor's short pamphlet is available at Canadiana Online.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Notes by the Way on Free Libraries and Books (1882) by John Hallam

Notes by the Way on Free Libraries and Books with a Plea for the Establishment of Rate-Supported Libraries in the Province of Ontario by John Hallam. Toronto: Globe Printing Company, 1882, 36 p. tables.

John Hallam was born in Chorley, Lancashire, England, in 1833, the son of a poor workingman. When he was still a boy, he worked in a cotton mill to help his parents. In his early twenties, Hallam emigrated to Canada, arriving in Toronto in 1856. For several years he took on menial work as a labourer but managed to save money to open a small business as a hide, wool and leather merchant. Through his own exertions and business acumen he developed a thriving business that became a leading Canadian importer and exporter, including a branch plant in Winnipeg. A political Liberal of the Lancashire type who preferred individual liberties, popular suffrage (including universal suffrage for women), and free trade, Hallam was out of step with the established Conservative norms which characterized "Tory Toronto;" nevertheless, he entered municipal politics in 1870 as an alderman, a position he held at different intervals for the next three decades. He campaigned unsuccessfully for mayor in 1900, finishing third. Hallam died shortly afterward at his residence on Isabella Street, Linden Villa. He was civic-minded and was one of the first directors of the Canadian National Exhibition which opened in 1879. Today, his original summer property in Rosedale, Chorley Park, continues to be enjoyed by Toronto residents with its quiet walkways and small gardens. Another notable civic contribution, of course, is the Toronto Public Library, one of the busiest public libraries in North America.

Because his personal interest leaned to book collecting, it is not surprising that John Hallam eventually became a prominent library promoter as well. He was treasurer of the Toronto Mechanics' Institute in 1871. His survey of libraries and call for the establishment of free library legislation was published in early 1882, Notes by the Way on Free Libraries and Books. His pamphlet was the summary of his inquiries by letter and personal visits to England, France, and Germany in the course of his travels, particularly in 1881. Hallam had already proposed the formation of a library in Toronto at the outset of 1881 and contacted both the Minister of Education, Adam Crooks, and Premier, Oliver Mowat, about the need for enabling legislation. The alderman made a forthright statement for rate-supported public libraries in his preface:
Free public libraries, to be useful and successful, must be rate supported, and free from the tedious formalities of an educational department, and represent every phase of human thought and opinion, every class and condition of men, and be absolutely free from all political and sectarian influences. They are the institutions of the people. They must initiate, manage and pay for their support.
In the opening pages of his work, Hallam stressed the value of reading and books. "Books are the records of human feeling, opinion, action and experience; and though the mere form of such records may have differed in different ages, the desire for and creation of such records have been inseparable from the career of mankind" (p. 8). His argument ranged from the Egyptian pharaohs, the library of Alexandria, the medieval period, and modern Europe, punctuated with quotes from celebrated authors such as Cicero and Milton. He emphasized that classroom education in the schools and self-education in adult life were the keys to a successful life.

Hallam followed with a description of library progress in France, Germany, and Great Britain which was the focus of his tract. He defended novel reading in a section on Leicester and praised the work being done in Birmingham and Manchester. Liverpool, Bradford, and Preston also received his attention. He had less information on American states, Edinburgh, and Dublin, but noted the evolution of thought in public library thinking after 1850. Of course, Hallam followed the conventional contemporary interpretation of Canadian ties to Britain and its imperial economic and cultural successes unlike Goldwin Smith's view of continental linkages with the United States.

Hallam also wrote about Canadian developments, such as they were. Most of his comments were directed to Egerton Ryerson's free libraries in schools which had been mostly "abandoned" by the government of the day. However, Hallam cleverly framed his central line of reasoning: "I put the question, that if a municipal tax freely voted by the people for the support of common schools works wisely and well, surely a rate for libraries must work in the same way" (p. 28). In a few paragraphs he sketched a plan for provincial legislation in Ontario to allow the formation of free public libraries. This would require the successful vote of the ratepayers in a city, town, or village to permit a suggested annual 1/2 mill rate, an expression of direct democracy through a referendum. He does not provide further details (such as the administration of libraries) but does provide insight into what he, a good liberal Victorian committed to cultural elevation, felt should be in the circulating collections.
I think the ingredients of such a library should be as general, as attractive and as fascinating as possible. I would have in a library of this sort a grand and durable foundation of solid, standard, fact literature. I would have a choice, clean-minded, finely imaginative superstructure of light reading. The vulgar, the sensuously sensational, the garbage of the modern press, I would most scrupulously avoid, just as I would avoid dirt and the devil. I would have everything in a library of this kind useful and captivating; mentally speaking, there should be nothing nasty and nothing dull in it. Next to dirty reading, for badness of effect, is dull reading. (p. 30-31)
Hallam then closed his arguments by summarizing his rationale for free library support. He maintained that free libraries were "profitable investments" for the public that developed a taste for reading, offered paths of study, and diverted working-men from street corners or "dram shops." They introduced the great minds of the past to new readers, promoted public virtue and enlightenment, and influenced social order, respectability, and intelligence. Thus, "by developing these virtues amongst the multitude, they [libraries] must necessarily diminish the ranks of those two great armies which are constantly marching to gaols and penitentiaries, and in the same ratio they must decrease the sums of money which ratepayers have to provide for the maintenance of those places" (p. 31). Ultimately, he contended that it was wiser to pay for intelligence than to tolerate ignorance.

John Hallam and his fellow alderman, John Taylor, were important promoters of free public library service in Toronto. Taylor also published a short tract, Toronto's Free Library, earlier in 1881, proposing the adoption of rate support of a 1/2 mill on the dollar. But Hallam's work was more detailed and specific about the purpose and benefits of free libraries. Although he does not reference the word "democracy," he calls upon the active, direct participation of citizens through the municipal referendum process to authorize the formation of libraries and thereby support the concept of rate-support for collections to be available freely to citizens. The library as a separate institution would be managed publicly, separate from the school system. Its resources could assist citizens to make better decisions than being left in ignorance, a vital ingredient in democratic life. Through the activity of self-education people could learn more about science and technology, business, government, medicine, and many other subjects.

Canada's essential democratic values in the British North America Act were "peace, order, and good government." Good government conducted in an orderly fashion through public consent was a keystone of political thinking during this period. The idea of common good through the power of popular government buttressed by public support shines through Hallam's Notes. This democratic impulse is similar to the development of Ontario's school system -- the advancement of knowledge and learning in an expanding population and electorate.

Hallam's efforts were rewarded when the Ontario government enacted the Free Libraries Act in 1882, an earlier blog I posted in November 2017. Toronto availed itself of this enabling legislation in January 1883 by a two-thirds majority of eligible votes cast, 5405 to 2862. Of course, in a city of 90,000 population, property or income qualifications excluded many workers from voting in annual municipal elections or on referenda. Not surprisingly, Hallam became the library's first chairperson later in the same year. His friend, John Taylor, followed as chair in 1885.

On 24 December 1881, the satirical magazine, Grip, invoked the spirit of  Christmas on behalf of a free library in Toronto. It commented on a drawing that "Santa Claus shall not fail to bring it in due time," a prediction that proved to be correct.

A short contemporary biography on John Hallam from the mid-1880s is available in George Maclean Rose's Cyclopaedia of Canadian Biography.

John Hallam's Notes by the Way on Free Libraries can be read at the Internet Archive.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Les Bibliothèques Populaires (1890) by Eugène Rouillard

Les Bibliothèques Populaires by Eugène Rouillard. Québec: L.-J. Demers & Frère, 1890. 61 p.

Eugène Rouillard was a man of many talents. He was born in Québec City in 1851 and died there in 1926 after a long career as a notary, journalist and writer, civil servant, and geographer. He studied at the Université Laval from 1872-75 and graduated with a degree in law. Although he was notary at the beginning of his career, he turned to journalism as a writer and editor of newspapers and then to work in government positions for three decades. In his government positions he dealt with a wide variety of issues, such as land sales, colonization issues, and lawsuits. Rouillard came to be well respected by contemporaries: he became a member of the Société du Parler Français au Canada, the Geographical Society of Quebec, and, in 1915, the Royal Society of Canada. He was grounded in the political life of his home province and his journalistic and civil service background familiarized him with Anglo-Saxon concepts of government and civil society with respect to public services. He was the author of a number of books: Our Rivers and Lakes (1895); The White Coal: The Water-Powers of the Province of Quebec (1909), and an important work on public libraries which will be discussed here.

Rouillard was one of a number of Canadian library promoters agitating for free public libraries after 1880. John Hallam, in Toronto, was notably successful after publishing his Notes by the Way on Free Libraries and Books with a Plea for the Establishment of Rate-Supported Libraries in the Province of Ontario in 1882. The Saint John Free Library, which opened in 1883, owed much to the work of Colonel James Domville and a committee of women headed by Miss Manning Skinner. In Montreal, the bequest of Hugh Fraser led to the establishment of the Fraser Institute, open free to the public in 1885. There many other people in localities across Canada--enough to label their activity as the "public library movement." By 1891, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec had all passed provincial laws enabling municipalities to support free public libraries through regular taxation.

Les Bibliothèques Populaires (1890) appeared at a time when public library development in Canada, especially Quebec, was at an early stage. There were a variety of interpretations about "bibliothèques populaires", i.e. "popular libraries" or "libraries for the people" as they were known in Europe, especially France. These libraries usually concentrated on recreational rather than educational collections. In North America, public libraries might be regarded simply as library that was not a personal collection, as libraries for public access resulting from private initiatives (e.g., the Fraser Institute opened in Montreal), as libraries established by an organization requiring small fees for public use, or as municipally rate-supported public institutions that allowed local residents free access to reading materials at the point of entry. It was this last sense that drew Rouillard's interest and led him to publish his pamphlet promoting public libraries in the same year that the Quebec provincial government, under the premiership of Honoré Mercier, was about to issue legislation authorizing cities, towns, and villages to support free libraries (or library associations and mechanics' institutes) through taxation (54 Vic., chap. 34, sec. 1-3). The promotion of free public libraries -- primarily a British and American ideal in 1890 -- might be construed as liberal politics. But it seems that Rouillard leaned more to the reformist politics that the Mercier government practiced in asserting Quebec's position in Confederation. Rouillard repeatedly mentions that free libraries complemented the evening courses for the working class that Mercier's nationalist party had created: "En un mot, la bibliothèque est le complément indispensable de l'école; l'une ne peut aller sans l'autre" (p. 18). Rouillard contended that the state owed the working class improved educational opportunities.

In two short sections, Rouillard surveys the development of free public libraries in the United States (p. 26-36). He was particularly impressed by the Chicago and Boston libraries which had grown rapidly after the 1850s. Magnificent donations to build libraries by John Jacob Astor (New York) and Andrew Carnegie (Pittsburgh) also drew his admiration: "les millionnaires qui se font non seulement un devoir, mais encore un honneur et une gloire de doter leur ville natale d'une bibliothèque à l'usage du peuple" (p. 31). Also, American states had established state laws that permitted municipalities to fund public libraries on an unprecedented scale. He wrote that Canada lagged far behind America both in philanthropic efforts to establish libraries and in government support.

Developments in Europe were also explored. He notes that fourteen free popular libraries already were receiving city ​​council grants in Paris. In Britain, public library legislation had been introduced years before in 1850. Rouillard's argumentation went beyond the free distribution of reading material in libraries. He claimed that many cities and towns in England, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany offered regular evening courses and public speakers who gave their time and their knowledge for free as well.

But in Quebec, there was much work to be done to reach a similar state enjoyed by working-class people in the United State and Europe. "Dans la province de Québec — il faut bien le confesser — nous sommes encore sous ce rapport dans la première enfance" (p. 45). By comparison, Ontario was comfortably ahead: there were several free libraries and a host of libraries and evening classes of varying degree in mechanics' institutes. Rouillard accepted the idea that the education of the people was a legitimate concern of localities: "Aussi, je prétends que la ville qui veut avoir une bibliothèque chez elle doit intervenir et payer sa quote-part des frais généraux" (p. 57). Legislative grants from provincial governments were not incentive enough, each city or town must do its part. The generosity of Andrew Carnegie might not be matched in dollars, but there were rich men from the ranks of commerce and industry in Quebec who might be expected to support libraries. Rouillard concluded that the idea of popular libraries that had been launched was too noble, too big, too beautiful, and too patriotic not to catch on and flourish in the future (p. 61).

The pamphleteer made a good case in 1890, but it would be many decades before Montreal would adopt the public library concept he was advocating. At this time, the predominant position of most French Canadian leaders espoused the idea of a separate national identity for the Québécois people rather than the adoption of  Anglo-American conventions. When a proposal to use a $150,000 Carnegie grant for a new central library was floated by the mayor of Montreal in 1901, it was not accepted. The opening of a new municipal public library building on Sherbrooke Street in 1917 was of long gestation. By this time, Rouillard's treatise, grounded in the political life of Quebec in 1890, was less relevant. Nevertheless, today, when thousands of people enter the Grande Bibliothèque on Montreal's De Maisonneuve Boulevard every week, one can see that Rouillard's fundamental insight and rationale for the provision of free municipal libraries more than a century ago -- the expansion of knowledge in his home province -- was justified. In this respect, his work will reward students of library history and deepen our knowledge about the development of Canadian public libraries.

Eugène Rouillard's work is online at the Internet Archive

Rouillard's biography is available in English and French at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography site.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Library, the School and the Child (1917) by John Whitehall Emery

The Library, the School and the Child by J.W. Emery. Toronto: Macmillan Co., 1917. ix, 216 pages, illus. Published version of Emery's Doctor of Pedagogy dissertation at the University of Toronto.

John Whitehall Emery was born in 1871 in New Sarum, a rural community southeast of London, Ont. He went to school locally and graduated from high school at Aylmer Collegiate Institute. Then he taught public school in Elgin County until he entered the University of Toronto in 1893. Shortly after, he recommenced teaching science at high schools in Kemptville and Port Hope for several years before returning to Toronto in 1902-04 to earn his bachelor's degree. He continued teaching, notably at the Stratford Normal School for teachers. He earned his doctorate in 1917 and then resumed work at the teachers' training school. He also was chair and secretary-treasurer of the Stratford Public Library in the early 1920s. He died in London in 1929.

Emery's thesis dealt with two major topics. First, in five chapters he studied the work of public libraries for children as public school pupils and as children. Second, in his following six chapters he treated government efforts in the United States, Canada, and Britain, to provide books for the young through school libraries.

At this time, public library provision of books for schools in the USA was a prominent feature of work at Buffalo, Cleveland, and Newark. The classroom library was the preferred choice and heavily used in these cities, although a branch library in a school was an occasional option. Cooperation on a local level with teachers for a variety of reference, picture collections, and professional texts, etc., also was a common practice. Children's departments and story hours in public libraries were another topic Emery examined and he provided interesting information on subjects such as "home libraries" for students who could share books with friends. Another topic included librarians working in playgrounds where many children who did not normally have access to books were active in the summer months.

Children's work in Canada was less developed. Activity in Canadian public libraries received attention in one chapter and remains a valuable starting point in histories. Emery surveyed pioneering efforts in many cities: Sarnia, Toronto, Ottawa, Victoria, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Westmount, and Saint John to name a few. Emery reveals some interesting statistics, for example, he notes that Winnipeg was circulating 300,000 (!!) books to children in 1915. In his opinion, Victoria "has one of the most advanced children's departments in Canada, and keeps in close touch with the schools as well" (p. 94). This is not surprising because the chief librarian, Helen Gordon Stewart (who Emery does not name) had taught in Manitoba before getting library training in New York in 1908-09 and taking up work in British Columbia.

Two chapters featured the early school libraries (mostly in township school sections) in Ontario under Egerton Ryerson and also the development of district school libraries in the United States. Emery was especially impressed with the contemporary California county system whereby schools could affiliate with the county public library system and participate in the benefits of centralized, professionally trained library services, and coordinated book purchases and distribution. However, this type of service would not develop until after his death, notably in southwestern Ontario counties, in the 1930s. He provides a good survey of current (i.e., post-1900) conditions in Ontario's rural school libraries and even provides illustrations (p. 152) to show the gradual evolution of under the direction of interested teachers.

After 1902, Ontario's provincial government reintroduced small grants (cancelled in 1888) to rural schools in order to encourage library development in 5,000 school sections. However, as Emery notes, public libraries and especially the Ontario Library Association did little to further public library-school library cooperation despite efforts of members such as James P. Hoag, a teacher and school inspector and library promoter, and William F. Moore (OLA President in 1913-14), the Principal of Dundas High School for three decades. There is an informative short chapter on the work of several education departments in other provinces as well.

J.W. Emery's thesis came at an opportune time. In the USA, a School Libraries Section of the American Association of School Librarians was beginning its activities and after the end of WW I the Ontario Department of Education began to take more interest in teacher training in library work. Librarians, such as Jean Merchant at the Normal School in Toronto, and others were being appointed (and trained in library work) as librarians and instructors at normal schools in Ontario. This action can be attributed in part to Emery's thesis completed in 1917. On balance, Emery found the success of school libraries was due in most part to the attentiveness and training of teachers in library work. After surveying teacher training in library methods and the libraries in normal schools (p. 160-173), which were mainly managed by the principal's secretary at each school, he recommended Ontario's normal schools follow American precedents. Emery made a number of suggestions, the most important being (p. 206-208) --
1) to have all students attend a course in library instruction that included reference work, children's literature, and rural school library administration;
2) to permanently engage a regularly qualified librarian with teaching experience for each normal school;
3) to equip each normal school with a model rural school library;
4) to establish in each of the normal schools a collection of fifty or more of the best children's picture books and story books for the very young;
5) to permit normal schools to make small loans of books or pictures to teachers of rural schools in the vicinity.

Of course, not all Emery's suggestions were adopted, but his work formed a basis for more standardized work in bringing library methods to the fore in teacher training. Although his publication was a doctorate, Emery had a pragmatic touch due to his careful survey of library conditions. His work continues to impress a century later. His suggestions for books for rural schools, such as Thompson Seton's Lobo, Rag, and Vixen; Johnny Crow's Garden by Leslie Brooke, the Canada Year Book, or Herrington's Heroines of Canadian History reached a variety of interests and ages in elementary education. Emery's bibliography of school library work is also very useful: he mentions works by early promoters such as Harry Farr in Britain, John Cotton Dana and Frances Jenkins Olcott in the USA that are important for writing the history of school libraries.

Emery's death in 1929 cut short his career before his sixtieth birthday, nonetheless he made a lasting contribution to the development of teacher training for school libraries in Ontario.

Emery's publication is available online at the Internet Archive.

Friday, November 08, 2019

The Public Library: Its Place in Our Educational System (1912) by Edwin Austin Hardy

The Public Library: Its Place in our Educational System by Edwin Austin Hardy. Toronto: William Briggs, 1912. ii, 223 p., illus., tables, appendices. Published version of Hardy's Doctor of Paedagogy dissertation.

Edwin Austin Hardy, who was born in New Hampshire in 1867, was a teacher, author, and library advocate. When he was still a child his family moved to Uxbridge, Ontario, where he received his early education. Eventually, he received a BA at the University of Toronto in 1888. He then took teacher training and taught in Lindsay where he became a trustee at the Mechanics' Institute in 1894. Although teaching was Hardy's profession, he also promoted public libraries. In 1899, Lindsay became a free public library and Carnegie money was granted to open a new building in 1904. Hardy was one of the founders of the Ontario Library Association (OLA) in 1900 and he worked tirelessly as its Secretary from 1900-25 before serving as President in 1925-26. Hardy moved to Toronto to organize work with the Sunday Schools Associations of Ontario in 1904, to be President of Moulton Ladies' College in 1906, and then a teacher of English and History at Jarvis Street Collegiate in 1910. He retired in 1936.

Hardy was a progressive organizer in the Victorian mold and held many interests. He helped found the Toronto High School Teachers' Association in 1903 and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation in 1919. He also helped found the Canadian Teachers' Federation in 1920 and was active as an officer in the World Federation of Education Associations and the Canadian Authors' Association. He was chair of the Toronto Board of Education in 1940 and pursued activities in the League of Empire and Health League of Canada. Hardy received the Order of the British Empire for his outstanding community work in 1935.

From a library perspective, Hardy's efforts in his role as secretary of OLA to promote public libraries, trustee governance, and library training were significant. But another prominent achievement was his 1912 doctorate on public libraries and an historical account of their development in Ontario. His work reviewed the development of libraries and provided an influential account of activities that libraries could undertake to improve the lives of individuals and, by extension, society. This will be the focus of my post.

Hardy arrived on the library scene at an important moment in 1895 when the Ontario legislature introduced an Act to amend and consolidate the Acts respecting Free Libraries and Mechanics' Institutes (58 Vic., Cap. 45). One section of this act provided that every free library and every Mechanics' Institute would be called a "Public Library." Hardy felt that this terminology "had something to do with their progress since [1895], especially in the developing of public interest in their management and betterment" (p. 42-43). Of course, Hardy was thinking of larger "public libraries" that were supported by mandated municipal levies raised in cities and towns rather than the vast number of smaller "public libraries" in Ontario that subsisted on membership fees, fundraising, and modest grants from local and provincial governments. Hardy foresaw a bright future for this first type of public library: "Its possibilities are only now being recognized by our legislative and educational authorities and by the public, in fact, even by library workers themselves. But it is coming to its own, slowly at first, but gathering force and speed daily, and the near future will see the public library system of Ontario as efficient as her primary and secondary school system" (p. 123-124). Despite many societal changes, Hardy's prediction for the most part has stood the test of time for more than a century.

Hardy's outline of the early 20th-century library purposes, activities, and educational work, as well as the factors contributing to the success of Ontario's public libraries may seem somewhat simplistic or outdated by today's standards, but they were by no means entirely acceptable to all his contemporaries. In fact, Hardy's treatise was ahead of his time and filled with suggestions for improving early 20th-century libraries. In many ways, his thesis is representative of classic arguments and conditions that existed for more than half a century when public libraries in Ontario (and Canada) were establishing firmer, more systematic roots on a provincial basis. It was the full-blown era of the "public library movement" when enthusiastic citizens in many urban communities agitated for municipal rate-supported libraries that would allow free access to people in local communities. By the mid-1920s all of Ontario's larger cities had established free public libraries.

Concerning the purpose of public libraries (aka, today's mission statement) and its general operation, Hardy advocated that they provide 1) a selection of the "best books" of general, scientific and reference literature; 2) recreative "good" fiction which would reach a broader public; 3) books and story hours for children of all ages; 4) current periodical holdings to satisfy a variety of community interests; 5) properly classified and catalogued collections (Hardy favoured the Dewey Decimal system and card catalogues); 6) open access to collections; and 7) effective publicity ("The public must be made to know and to feel that the library belongs to them and not to the librarian or the Board", p. 80)

Concerning the important educative value of public libraries, Hardy outlined a number of activities:
Technical Education -- provision and promotion of books for engineering and industrial training
Commercial and Agricultural Education -- materials for bookkeeping, accounting, banking,
transportation, etc. to serve commercial growth and rural progress
Musical Education -- a variety materials (possibly sheet music as well)
Art Education -- books, catalogues, reproduction, photographs, etc.
Domestic Education -- resources for the home, its furnishings, maintenance, and health
Political Education -- newspapers, public documents, statues, legislative materials, etc. In an era before women were legally able to vote, Hardy was particularly keen to satisfy the needs of lawyers and students of politics (the "young men entering the field of public life", p. 94)
Medical and Legal Education -- mostly books for serious study or reference concerns
Teachers' Institutes -- materials that could bring teachers in closer touch with the public library
Local Clubs and Societies -- space for local organizations to house their holdings
Travelling Libraries -- a centre for local study groups to access the Ontario Department of Education's book service which continued until the early 1960s
Lecture Rooms in the Library -- "Lecture courses, debating societies, library institutes, and all such intellectual activities, find themselves in a congenial atmosphere in library buildings" (p. 97)
The Library and the School -- Hardy summarizes several ways that the public library and school might operate to the benefit of students and community life but did not advocate one over the other.

Concerning the successful administration and management of libraries, Hardy felt that Ontario was on the right track in several sections. It began with contemporary Legislative Assistance and Supervision which was now greatly improved. Only the inadequacy of the staff in the Inspector of Public Libraries office was holding back progress at the provincial level. Library Boards held the power of management and were optimally representative of their communities. Educated direction by community members was an important ingredient in library success. Of course, Hardy was hopeful that board members (mostly men) "should attract the best classes of citizens" (p. 105) and provide continuity in library affairs through open-minded decision making. He admitted that Finances were often inadequate (especially in smaller libraries) and suggested a few remedies for added grants and incentives from governments. For Public Library Buildings Hardy suggested "The essential qualities to be aimed at are simplicity, convenience, facility and economy of administration" (p. 109). He offered Lindsay as an example: its radial stack plan at the rear was open to the public for browsing and it held separate small rooms on each side of the entrance for reading purposes and children. An efficient Librarian was an instrumental part of public library success. "Efficiency here does not mean knowledge of books and skill in library methods alone; it implies a right spirit; a spirit of service, of tact, of open-minded alertness, of zeal and of sympathy" (p. 109). With proper Training of the Librarian at the recently opened summer school for librarians in Toronto in 1911, Hardy felt a good beginning had been made. But there was much work to be done in educating and training librarians in Ontario. Finally, the author concluded with some comments about Public Sentiment and Library Organization. Hardy foresaw that the efforts of the Ontario Library Association to arouse public support and establish better standards would be essential for future success.

Hardy had opened his thesis by developing a history of the public library in Ontario that followed along the lines of his contemporary, James Bain, chief librarian of Toronto Public Library. Together, they outlined a progressive record in Ontario from subscription libraries (aka, membership or association) libraries, Mechanics' Institutes, free libraries, and ultimately public libraries after 1895. Both men emphasized the community aspect of local library growth: a bottoms-up effort assisted by small provincial grants that gave prominence to Ontario's "public library movement" led by nonprofessional civic leaders. This was a Victorian success story in many ways, but one that could also continue to be improved in many ways. Victorians in Britain and Canada believed in cultural accessibility, social order, and a more expansive representative liberal democracy. Books, improved literacy, and reading freely attainable at a public institution such as the library was all well and good as Hardy illustrated in his epigraph to his work from Edward Edwards, the English librarian and author:

"To make good books of the highest order freely and easily accessible throughout the length and breadth of the land were surely to give no mean furtherance to the efforts of the schoolmaster, and of the Christian minister, to produce under God's blessing a tranquil, a cultivated and a religious people."

Hardy, a lifelong Baptist, held strong religious views and was also active in promoting Sunday School libraries. It could be said he possessed what his American contemporaries, such as Melvil Dewey, called the "library spirit" -- the possibility of social change for the better through the educative qualities of the public library. It was a stance that would be the mainstay in public library growth in Ontario until after 1945 when social life and librarianship began to undergo many changes during a new phase of mid-century modernization that emphasized recreational aspects and new concepts related to information access that Victorians, such as Hardy, could scarcely imagine. In retrospect, he provided the most informed Canadian statement concerning the "library spirit" in speaking about its main protagonist, librarian:

An efficient librarian can do more with a thousand books in unfavorable quarters than a poor librarian with ten thousand in a thoroughly satisfactory building. Efficiency here does not mean knowledge of books and skill in library methods alone; it implies a right spirit; a spirit of service, of tact, of open- minded alertness, of zeal and of sympathy. Given a librarian of that spirit, trained in some adequate fashion and the public library becomes not only the handmaid of the schools, but it becomes in a very true sense  'the people's university.' It not only meets the wants which the community now feels, but reveals to it new wants to be supplied. (p.109-10)

In time, by the 1920s, the "library spirit" that characterized work in North America in previous decades would begin to give way in Ontario to "modern methods," a unifying concept that Hardy would eventually turn to in later publications.

Hardy's published 1912 thesis is readily available online at Canadiana Online

Further reading:

John Wiseman, "'Champion Has-Been': Edwin Austin Hardy and the Ontario Library Movement," in Peter F. McNally, ed., Readings in Canadian Library History (Ottawa: Canadian Library Association, 1986), pp. 231-243.

Edwin Austin Hardy, “An Outline Program of the Work of the Ontario Library Association,” Public Libraries; a Monthly Review of Library Matters and Methods 6, no. 7 (July 1901): 414–418.

Edwin Austin Hardy, “A Half Century of Retrospect and Prospect; Annual Presidential Address,” Ontario Library Review 11, no. 2 (Nov. 1926): 41–46. [library work as "this great service of culture and happiness"]

Edwin Austin Hardy, “The Ontario Library Association: Forty Years, 1900-1940,” Ontario Library Review 25, no. 1 (Feb. 1941): 9–13. ["lay membership is of great importance"]

Monday, July 08, 2019


George H. Locke, chief librarian of the Toronto Public Library between 1908 and 1937, was Canada’s foremost librarian in the first part of the twentieth century. During this period, free public libraries and librarianship in Ontario expanded rapidly due to the philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie, improvements in library education, and the influence of American library developments.

Locke’s outlook in library work was guided by his Methodist upbringing, his association with John Dewey’s contribution to American progressive education, and the Anglo-Canadian academic tradition of British Idealism in the late nineteenth century. These religious and intellectual strands encouraged personal action to seek solutions to improve social conditions. As director of Toronto’s library system, he brought his ambitious ideas to bear in many ways most notably the building of neighbourhood branches, library service for children and young adults, formal education for librarians, and the idea of the public library as a municipal partner in the lifelong self-education of Canadians. By the end of the 1920s, Toronto’s public library system was recognized as one of the best in North America and George Locke’s reputation as a progressive leader had vaulted him to the Presidency of the American Library Association in 1926-27.

Although he had created a large organization that might have succumbed to bureaucratic practices and formalized centralization, he remained faithful to his moral, intellectual, and humanistic values acquired during his schooling and university career. For Locke, libraries and librarianship served the public interest by delivering lifelong knowledge and by guiding individual self-development through experiential learning and transcendent ideals. He promoted adult learning in the early part of the twentieth century when adult education became a field of study in North America.

Many services Locke introduced at Toronto Public Library and national projects he undertook influenced Canadian developments in library work. After the Carnegie Corporation of New York agreed to fund a study of the conditions of Canadian libraries, Locke, along with Mary J. L. Black (Fort William) and John Ridington (University of British Columbia), became commissioners in a national inquiry that was conducted at the onset of the Great Depression. Their 1933 publication, Libraries in Canada: A Study of Library Conditions and Needs, was the first in-depth report on Canadian libraries in the 20th century. Because his impact extended well beyond Toronto, the Canadian government erected a bronze plaque in his honour in 1948 in the town of his birth, Beamsville, Ontario. It reads:
Born at Beamsville and educated at Victoria College and the University of Toronto, Locke taught at Toronto, Chicago and Harvard Universities and was Dean of Education at Chicago and at MacDonald College before becoming Chief Librarian of the Toronto Public Libraries. In that position, he transformed a small institution into one of the most respected library systems on the continent. Sometime President of the American Library Association, one of the founders of the Arts & Letters Club, he was a gifted speaker and the author of books and articles on literary, historical and professional themes. He died in Toronto.
George Herbert Locke, c. 1918


Today, the George H. Locke Memorial Branch, the first major library building in Canada constructed after the Second World War in 1949, continues to be a testament to his career and his faith in the idea of the public library as a necessary educational service to society.

George Locke's family upbringing and academic years in Toronto, Chicago, and Boston shaped many of his ideas that he applied to libraries and librarianship. Read about these viewpoints in my illustrated book, “George H. Locke and the Transformation of Toronto Public Library, 1908-1937” available at the Internet Archive of books. Requires Adobe Acrobat PDF software.

 A review of Libraries in Canada is at my earlier post.

Sunday, March 31, 2019


In June 1946, the Canadian Library Association was founded on the McMaster University campus in Hamilton, Ontario. There were about 300 persons in attendance. One of the first orders of business was the adoption of a draft constitution which had been circulated to groups across the nation. The members present agreed that the CLA would be a bilingual, national organization with annual conferences across Canada. However, the delegates balked at the draft proposal of having executives and governing councilors represent geographical considerations; instead, the members voted to have both the association's  Executive and Council elected by the membership based on personal merit.

Membership in CLA was envisioned to be general, it was to be an "umbrella model" library organization. There would be institutional members interested in the promotion of library service, librarians, trustees and those serving on governing boards of libraries, as well as associate members (persons interested in librarianship and libraries). Professional interests were represented in new active Sections, six by 1950: Children's, Young People's, Trustees, Cataloguing, Reference, and Research Libraries.

The CLA's constitution was incorporated under Canada's federal Companies Act on November 26, 1947. Of course, some constitutional provisions, such as the one on Sections (VII), would be revised a number of times in the next decade. This version was published in 1947 and reflects the ideas and agreement reached at the founding meeting of CLA.


Canadian Library Association -- Association Canadienne des Bibliothèques

Constitution, 1947

Article I     -   Name
Article II    -   Object
Article III   -  Membership
Article IV   -  Officers and Executive Board
Article V    -  Council
Article VI   -  Committees
Article VII  -  Sections
Article VIII - Meetings
Article IX   -  By-laws
Article X    -  Amendments to the Constitution

Article I. Name
Sec. 1. The name of this body shall be the Canadian Library Association or Association Canadienne des Bibliothèques.

Article II. Object
Sec. 1. The object of the Association shall be:
(a) to promote education, science and culture within the nation through library service;
(b) to promote high standards of librarianship and the welfare of librarians;
(c) to co-operate with library associations both within and outside of Canada and with other organizations interested in the promotion of education, science and culture.
Sec. 2. The Association shall be a non-profit, non-sectarian, non-political body.

Article III. Membership
Sec. 1. Members. An individual, institution or other group approved by the Executive Board may become a member upon payment of the fees provided for in the by-laws. The membership of an individual or an institution may be suspended by two-thirds vote of the Combined Executive Board and Council; a suspended member may be reinstated by a two-thirds vote of the Board and Council in joint session.

Article IV. Officers and Executive Board
Sec 1.
(a) The officers of the Association shall be a President, a President-Elect, who shall serve as First Vice-President, a Second Vice-President, an Executive Secretary, and a Treasurer. These officers, with the exception of the Executive Secretary, shall be elected at each annual general meeting of the Association, and, with the immediate Past President, shall constitute the Executive Board.
(b) All library members shall be eligible for election to the Executive Board.
Sec. 2. Duties of Officers.
(a) The President, First Vice-President, Executive Secretary and Treasurer shall perform the duties relating to their respective offices.
(b) The President shall be an ex-officio member of all Committees of the Association.
(c) i. The President-Elect shall serve the first year after election as First Vice-President, the second year as President, the third year as ex-officio member of the Executive Board.
ii. The President-Elect shall, in accordance with the By-laws, designate to the Executive Board for appointment, the five members of the Nominating Committee.
(d)The President, the Executive Secretary and the Treasurer shall report annually to the membership.
Sec. 3. Duties of the Executive Board.
(a) The Executive Board shall administer the affairs of the Association during its term of office in accordance with the policies laid down by the Council.
(b) It shall review all membership applications as submitted, and be responsible for their approval.
(c) It shall review the annual estimates, and approve the annual budgets which shall be received by the Treasurer. All budgets shall be within the limit of the estimated income of the Association.
(d) It shall report promptly resolutions adopted by the Executive Board to the Councillors.
(e) It shall fix compensation of all paid officers and employees.
(f) It shall choose and appoint the Executive Secretary. This officer shall be appointed by the Executive Board at each annual Executive Board meeting.
(g) It shall designate the length of terms of appointments to Committees in accordance with the By-laws.
(h) The Executive Board shall authorize votes by mail when required.
(i) It shall fill all vacancies in office. The persons so elected shall serve until the end of the fiscal year.
Sec. 4. Term of Office.
(a) The officers and the Executive Board shall serve until the end of the fiscal year.
(b) i. No person shall serve on the Executive Board for more than three consecutive years.
ii. No person can be returned to the Executive Board after a term of three years, during the three years subsequent to the expiration of his term of office.

Article V. Council
Sec. 1. Membership. The Council shall consist of the following members to be known as Councillors:
(a) Nine members elected by the membership at large.
(b) The members of the Executive Board.
(c) Chairmen of Sections.
Sec. 2. Councillors. Members of the Council shall be Members of the Association in good standing.
Sec. 3. Duties.
(a)The Council shall be the Legislative body of the Association.
(b) It shall determine all policies of the Association and its decisions shall be binding upon the Association, its officers, and its constituted bodies.
(c) In the Council shall be vested all powers of the Association not otherwise provided for in the Constitution and By-laws.
(d) It shall inform the Executive Board of all new and revised policies.
(e) The Council shall review the action of officers, Committees and Executive Board of the Association.
(f) It shall promptly consider questions of professional and public interest referred to it by the membership Committees, or Executive Board, and promptly act upon reports and recommendations made by the Association and its constituted bodies.
(g) It shall report regularly to the Association at the annual meeting.
(h) It shall appoint Standing Committees in accordance with the By-laws.
(i)The members may. set aside any action of the Council by a three-fourths vote at any meeting of the Association or by a majority vote by mail in which one-fourth of the voting members of the Association have voted. Such vote by mail shall be held upon petition of fifty members of the Association.
Sec. 4. Terms of Office.
(a) Councillors chosen by the membership at large shall serve for a term of three years except as stated in the By-laws.
(b) No person shall serve on the Council for two consecutive terms.
(c) The Council year shall be the Fiscal Year.

Article VI. Committees
Sec. 1. Committees shall be appointed in accordance with the By-laws.
Sec. 2. All members of the Association are eligible for committee membership.
Sec. 3. The President shall be an ex-officio member of all Committees of the Association.
Sec. 4. Each Committee shall present an annual report to the Council.

Article VII. Sections
Sec. 1. Special interest sections of the Association may be constituted as provided for in the By-laws.

Article VIII. Meetings
Sec. 1. Meetings shall be held as provided for in the By-laws.

Article IX. By-laws
Sec. 1. By-laws and amendments to them may be proposed in writing by the Executive Board, by the Council, or by twenty voting members of the Association.
Sec. 2. They shall be received by the Executive Secretary and included in the agenda for the annual general meeting.
Sec. 3. They may be adopted by a majority vote of the members present and voting at an annual general meeting.
Sec. 4. Any By-law may be suspended by a three-fourths vote of those present and voting at an annual general meeting.

Article X. Amendments to the Constitution
Sec. 1. Amendments to the constitution may be proposed in writing by the Council, by the Executive Board, or by twenty voting members of the Association for consideration by a Constitution Committee at least two months before the annual general meeting.
Sec. 2. Report of the Constitution Committee shall be received by the Executive Secretary, included in the agenda for the annual general meeting, and mailed to the membership three weeks in advance of the meeting.
Sec. 3. Amendments may be adopted by a majority vote of the members present and voting at the annual general meeting.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


I had an opportunity to speak at OLA's most recent Super Conference in Toronto. It was the twenty-fifth anniversary! OLA's restructuring of its various annual meetings and sub-conferences in the mid-1990s has been highly successful for the library community and its trade show, attracting attention from across Canada, not just the province of Ontario.

Anyway, I was speaking at a session designed on "governance" mostly aimed at library trustees but also of some interest to librarians and people interested in libraries as well. I am posting a PDF version of a PowerPoint that I used to talk about a "short history" of Ontario's public library movement, its trustees, legislation, the OLA itself, and some main trends that have absorbed people's attention over the past century. The history of libraries in Ontario does not usually focus on library boards or trusteeship or the OLA's impact but it is well worth examining.

You can visit the session and read through the PDF handout I used at the OLA Super Conference site for the session "The History of Public Libraries and Library Boards in Ontario." My co-presenter was Kerry Badgley, the Past-President of OLA and its President in 2018. Kerry spoke on his current research in these areas, especially the period after the First World War. Or you can play the video here.


Saturday, January 26, 2019


Early in the twentieth century a small group of trustees, librarians, and persons interested in libraries met in Toronto at the Ontario Education Department's Normal School located on St. James Square (present-day Ryerson University). They planned to form an association to promote public library development in Ontario, despite the their small numbers--just more than thirty attendees.

The delegates elected James Bain, Jr., chief librarian of the Toronto Public Library as President of the Ontario Library Association. He read an inspiring paper, "The Library Movement in Ontario." The new Secretary from Lindsay, Edwin A. Hardy, gave a more pragmatic paper, "An Outline Programme of the Work of the Ontario Library Association." Both men would be instrumental in the following years in which the OLA would vigorously promote public libraries and become one of the most successful library associations in North America. Other presentations focused on Canadian literature and poetry, small libraries and schools, travelling libraries, and book selection. By all newspaper accounts, the meeting boded well for the future of libraries in the province.

A draft constitution had been prepared by a small committee beforehand and was adopted with a couple of amendments as follows:



This organization shall be called "The Ontario Library Association."

Its object shall be to promote the welfare of Libraries, by stimulating public interests in founding and improving them, by securing any need of legislation, by furthering such co-operative work as shall improve results or reduce expenses, by exchanging views and making recommendations in convention or otherwise, and by advancing the common interests of Librarians, Trustees and Directors and others engaged in library and allied in education work.

(a) Any person engaged in Library work as Trustee, Director, Librarian, or in any other capacity, may become a member by paying the annual fee and any others after election by the Executive Committee.
(b) Librarians may join the Association in the same way as individuals, and shall be entitled to two representatives at the meetings of the Association.
(c) The annual fee shall be $1.00 for individuals, and $2.00 for Libraries.
(d) Honorary Members may be elected by Executive Committee at any meeting of the Committee.
(e) Any person may become a life member entitled during life to all rights and privileges of membership without payment of annual dues, by payment of $10.00.

(a) The officers of the Association shall be a President, two Vice-presidents, Secy.-Treasurer and five Councillors, to be elected by ballot at the adjournment of the meeting at which their Successors are elected.
(b) The officers, together with the President of the preceding year, shall constitute an Executive Committee of the Association, with power to act for the Association between meetings. Three members shall constitute a quorum.
(c) The Executive Committee shall appoint standing committees, and such other officers and committees as may be required to transact the business of the Association. (d) The Secretary and the Treasurer shall perform the duties usually assigned to such officers. The Treasurer shall expend not more than $5.00 in any month except on orders signed by the President of the Association.

(a) There shall be an annual meeting of the Association at such time and place as may be decided upon by the Executive Committee, and the Secretary shall send notice to every member of the Association, at least one month before the meeting.
(b) Special meetings may be called by the President, or in his absence by the Vice-President, on a written request of ten or more members, provided one month's notice be duly given, and that only business specified in the call be transacted.
(c) Ten members shall constitute a quorum.
(d) Any resolution approved in writing by every member of the Committee shall have the force of a vote.

ART. 6. AMENDMENTS. Amendments may be made to the constitution at any meeting of the Association, provided that notice of the proposed amendments was sent by the Secretary to each member one month before the meeting, and that the amendment has a two-thirds majority of the members present.

The OLA's constitution would be revised a number of times over the next one hundred years as the organization and its aims expanded but its essential thrust to promote library development would remain a constant.

Monday, January 21, 2019


The Institution shall be called The Toronto Public Library—and the date of its commencement is hereby declared to be the 27th of October, 1842.

So read a small pamphlet that outlined the bylaws and constitution of yet another Canadian subscription library formed in the first part of the nineteenth century. The entry fee for a subscriber was £1, the quarterly subscription 2 shillings/6 pence, and payment to the Librarian 1 shilling. Like many of the more than fifty subscription libraries established in the Canadian colonies before 1850, the library did not have a long lifespan. Its formation has not attracted much attention, but a perusal through the pages of the British Colonist for the last months of 1842 provides insight into the development of the public library concept in Upper Canada early in the 1840s.

My interest in this particular library is its name--Toronto Public Library--and the rationale for its creation at a time when mechanics' institutes, newsrooms, and societies with libraries were becoming popular in Canadian colonial settings. The founders identified the "public library" as one that held a general collection and reference materials and was accessible to all residents of a community. But it was not a constituent part of local government because it relied on voluntary payments and contributions from philanthropic persons--mostly men--who were willing to pay a sum on entry and the annual membership fee. This type of library, often called a subscription or membership or social library, performed a public function but was not a state agent and it was managed privately by a Committee of Management (COM) chosen by the subscribers. Yet it was clearly regarded as a community-based agency. It characterized the importance of nineteenth-century ideas about voluntarism, civic promotion, and public-private partnerships working in the interest of the public good. A public library was one that a group of people shared a common interest in reading.

The proposed library took shape in the autumn of 1842 when a number of gentlemen held meetings to determine if a new library venture was possible. They enlisted the support of Toronto's mayor, Henry Sherwood, a civic-minded Tory interested in the town's progress: he agreed to the President. William B. Jarvis, also a Tory and well known for his connections with the older governing clique, the Family Compact, became a manager. Another prominent member, Thomas G. Ridout, was one of the leading managers. Ridout, a Reformer in political affairs, was interested in civic projects and later became involved with the incorporation of the Toronto Mechanics' Institute in 1847 while serving as its President, 1845-48. Another reform-minded lawyer, Joseph C. Morrison, who later became a prominent judge, agreed to be secretary for the library. John Cameron, Cashier of the Commercial Bank of the Midland District at Toronto, was Vice-President.

The British Colonist represented centrist conservative standpoints and was not given to extravagant views. In a November 2, 1842 editorial, the paper stated its firm belief in the project for a new library because "It is fitted to be productive of great good, for many from the want of a well selected library ... have not the means of storing their minds with substantial and useful knowledge." The Colonist suggested young men in stores and offices would benefit most. The utilitarian philosophy underlying the editorial was common in this period and would continue to be a salient reason for supporting libraries. Later in the month, on the 23rd, the Colonist was even more appreciative:, the position which the Colony occupies, and this City in particular, increasing in numbers and wealth, demands that an effort should be made to organize, and render effective, such an important institution as a Public Library.
...but when we consider that in a population of seventeen thousand, there is no Library belonging to the Public, this fact does not speak much in our favour. For our character therefore as citizens, and our growing intelligence as individuals, it is expected that the scheme will meet with public favour and support. Another generation is rising amongst us, and every well-wisher of his family, and of his kind, should be desirous that full opportunities should be granted to them for improvement.
Accommodation for the library was arranged in Osborne's Building at the corner of King and Church in downtown Toronto. It appears two merchants, Osborne and Wyllie, made provision for this (the upper level of this building was later occupied for some time by the reading room of an otherwise unknown "Mercantile Library Association" recorded by W.H. Smith's Canada, Past Present and Future in 1851). But the efforts of its founders went for naught: apparently insufficient subscriptions were attained and eventually part of the money raised may have been turned over by the former Vice-President, John Cameron, to the newly formed Toronto Athenaeum in 1845. One of the purposes of the Toronto Athenaeum, which existed until 1855, was to establish a public popular library and museum. However, Toronto would not have a truly "public library" for another forty years. The Toronto Mechanics' Institute would serve the purpose of a general library for the public at small expense until 1883. The concept of a public library in the 1840s Canada was one that people could use if they made voluntary personal payments for membership at the time of entry and annual subscriptions. Public ownership through enabling provincial legislation, municipal ownership, and free access via residential rights lay in the future.

Nonetheless, the constitution devised by the more well-to-do Toronto "library community" at this time is interesting. The collection was to be of "general and permanent interest," suggesting a weighting toward non-fiction. New members required the recommendation of two subscribers. Women were admissible but could only vote by proxy at general meetings. Subscribers could transfer their shares according to entry money upon approval of the COM. The managers selected books based on member's suggestions and posted lists of potential purchases before acquisitions were requested. The President had a limited prerogative to purchase books of a political, local, literary, or religious nature. Penalties for overdue or damaged books were a source of revenue. Lending books to family members was a finable offense and subscribes could be fined for non-attendance at meetings. Library members were required to be conscientious and responsible and in early Victorian Toronto, one of the burdens of being a shareholder! The full text of the laws and bylaws of the proposed library are available online:

Laws of the Toronto Public Library. Toronto: British Colonist, 1842. [ CIHM/ICMH Microfiche Series = no. 55494]