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Library History

A Brief History of the Holden Municipal Library

September 15, 2009


In 1984, the Village of Holden celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary as an incorporated village.  Many “homecoming” events and activities throughout that summer generated funds, which Village Council decided should be expended on a “special project” for Holden and surrounding residents, the benefit of which would stretch into the future.

In 1985 a proposal to establish a municipal library in the Village was accepted and a small group of people, selected at a community meeting, began the process of establishment. They were  Deborah Ulmer, Michelle Mulder, Dawn Puzey, Anneke Van der Torre, Robert Tiedeman, Grace Appleby, Pearl Allan , Ruth Suchy and Councillor Ken Sharp.

Over the next few years, this group, with the help of other municipal libraries in the County of Beaver, worked their way (learning a tremendous amount about government requirements for public buildings, construction details, licensing and legal issues, etc.) toward opening a beautiful facility on Holden’s Main Street.

Many hearts and hands went into the endeavour.  The Village of Holden provided the lot where the library sits – for a dollar.  Local contractors donated time and energy to ensure foundations were poured and walls went up.  The school division (then the County of Beaver School Board) provided library shelving and other furnishings from the recently closed Holden High School, and the Towns of Viking and Tofield and Village of Ryley  libraries contributed expertise, books and enthusiasm to the project.     Library supporters initiated  brick sale which at $25.00 a piece has numbered 153 bricks with purchasers being recognized on a commemorative plaque.

In June of 1987, the Holden Municipal Library opened its doors to the public.  But, it was so much more than a brand new building on main street.  It was a place where young children and parents could go and browse, snuggle on beanbag chairs and spend a few hours looking at picture books or playing with toys.  Many residents were regular visitors, reading magazines, making requests for inter-library loans for specialized resources, or leaving with armloads of books and new ideas.

In its first year of operations, with funding from the Village of Holden  of 2.75 per capital and the Province of Alberta, and with a volunteer library board in place and a totally volunteer staff, the library established an outreach service for the seniors’ lodge and other residents who found it difficult to get to the facility.  The first summer saw the initiation of the summer reading program, with plans in place to encourage children of all ages to read for prizes.  Craft days and other activities supporting the Village’s summer program were a welcome addition to long hot days.  The following fall and winter, the library connected with the local playschool, offering a reading and story telling session once a month for preschoolers and parents.

Within its first three years of operations, the Holden Municipal Library established a satellite branch in the Hamlet of Bruce, so residents there would not have to drive to Holden for their books and resources.  Bruce’s collection was refreshed once a month so the collection would not become stale.  Over the next years, the little library in Holden continued to expand services and create new ways to support the reading and information needs of the community.

Twenty years ago, with the support of their community behind them, a small group of people with big ideas turned a dream into reality.  Today the Holden Library is part of a province- Canada wide system of libraries. In 2001 the library became a  C.A.P. (Community Access Program )Site  which has 5 computer for the public, offers courses and supports in many areas and is continuously improving its services to the public. 

It has become so much more than a building with books – it has become a lasting legacy to the community of Holden.

By Michele Mulder