Excerpted from: “Rainy River : Our Town, Our Lives” by Marg Thompson. 1979.
“The official history of the Rainy River Community library began in 1956 with the establishment of the first Library Board. The members were Mrs. F. Stanley Mealy, Chairman; Mrs. James Michie, secretary-treasurer; Rev. L.C. Fryer, Dr. J.S.G. Fraser, L. Farago, Mr. R. Withers and Mrs. A. Brockman.
The first community library was opened on June 5, 1956, in the Community Centre, with Mayor C. Olinyk and A. Warnuk, Chairman of the Rainy River Recreation Committee, officiating at the ceremonies. There were approximately fifty people in attendance. At this time the library was staffed by the following volunteer librarians:
Mrs. M. Mealey, Mrs. L.C. Fryer, Mrs. L. Lundy, Mrs. G. Gosselin, Mrs. R. Race, Mrs. R. Books, Mrs. K. Hawthorne, Mrs. J. Michie, Mrs. D. McGregor, Sr., and Mrs. A. Brockman was the children’s librarian. Other volunteer librarians included Mrs. M Clearwater, Mrs. D. Sullivan, Mrs. M. Hagarty, Mrs. Pat Martin, Mrs. G. Terhune, Mrs. E. Woods, Mrs. Bruce and Mrs. W. Berard.
The Canadian Legion paid for one unit of books and many were donated. Also there was a book exchange with Northwestern Regional Library System at regular intervals. The library was also visited four times a year by the Thunder Bay Co-operative Bookmobile with an addition of 290 volumes, also filmstrips. This service continued until 1974.
In December of 1956, the library was moved to a larger room in the Community Centre where more shelves were installed and also tables and chairs. Many books were donated by interested citizens.
Certificates were awarded to Jessie Martinson, Ruth Bynkoski and Rosemary Laevens in 1972. They worked as volunteer librarians at this time. In February, 1971, new officers were elected: Mrs. Jessie Martinson, chairman; Mrs. Ruth Michie, secretary-treasurer. Mrs. Michie also held the position as head librarian. The library received a L.I.P. grant of one hundred dollars a week for twenty-one weeks. This is the first time the librarians received pay for their work. With the resignation of Mrs. R. Michie in December 31, 1972, Mrs. W. Berard was given the position of head librarian for 1973.
In September, 1973 a special committee was appointed to consult the Town council about relocating the library in a more central area. Officers for 1974 were Rosemary Laevens, Chairman; Jessie Martinson, Vice-Chairman; Ruth Bynkoski, secretary and Ruth Michie, treasurer. These positions were not affected until 1975 when Curtis Coons assumed the position as chairman and Vicky Coons as treasurer. Mr. John Scott took the position of chairman for 1978.
Library membership in 1976 increased by 117 to 470. Included in total membership were 150 members who resided outside the town of Rainy River. The library moved May 12, 1978 to the former Town Hall. Graduating from a one room operation in the Community Centre to three rooms in the new quarters, the library now has ample room for book display. It is impressive for a small town library. The air-conditioned and carpeted rooms are spacious and attractive.”
----- Rainy River Public Library History compiled by Michael Dawber --- Grand Opening “Library Opening Draws Small Crowd” – Rainy River Record, June 7, 1956 “A...crowd of 38 people attended the opening of Rainy River’s public library last Tuesday evening at the Community Centre... A. Warnuk, chairman of the Recreation Committee, introduced the members of the Library Board, who had worked many hours in the past few weeks in preparation for the opening. On the board are: Mrs. M. Mealey, chairman; Mrs. R. Michie, secretary; Mrs. M. Clearwater, Mrs. M. Flamand, Rev. L. Fryer, and Dr. G. Fraser. Librarians have been appointed as follows: Mrs. Mealy, Mrs. Michie, Mrs. Bruce and Mrs. L. Lundy. Mayor C. Olinyk officially opened the library by cutting the ribbon across the door leading into the library room. He complimented those responsible for making the library a reality. J.H. Hammond, a member of the district library board, made a few remarks on the operation of this district-wide group and how it will benefit the local library by providing an exchange of books periodically. Mrs. Mealey thanked the speakers for their part in the opening program. Tea was served as the conclusion of the program.” --- Rainy River Public Library History – by the Numbers!
1981: Members, 647. Collection, 8,951 books (including 3,825 on loan from Northwestern Regional Library). Circulation, 14,489.
1986: Members, 1,071. Collection, 8,321 books. Circulation, 19,474. Use of Commodore 64 computers = 72 hours.
1991: Members, 1,137. Collection, 14,501 items, including 59 books on tape and 15 foreign language learning tapes. Circulation, 21,939, including 1,869 VHS movies.
1996: Members, 1,344. Collection, 13,948 items – 658 new items were purchased in 1996. Circulation, 18,982, including 1,947 magazines, 222 audio tapes and 3,269 VHS movies.
2001: Active members, 869. Collection, 12,108 – 501 new items purchased. Circulation, 8,748, including 141 interlibrary loans. Public internet use, 73.5 hours.
2006: Active members, 780. Collection, 9.756 – 436 new items were purchased in 2005. Circulation, 8,634. Internet user-sessions, 975.
2011: Active members, 586. Collection, 13,070 physical items – 2,059 new items were purchased in 2011. On-line Collection, 25,956 downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. Circulation, 12,926, including 448 downloads. Internet user-sessions, 2,828.
2015: Active members, 746. Collection, 17,326 physical items, including 2,555 DVDs, Blu-rays and CDs. 2,480 new items were purchased in 2015. On-line Collection, 125,142 downloadable audiobooks and eBooks and 48,835 electronic periodical tables. Circulation, 18,385, including 2,132 downloads. Internet user-sessions, 2,304. Items loaned to other Ontario libraries, 255.
2019: Active members, 672. Collection, 18,952 physical items, including 4,143 DVDs, Blu-rays and CDs. On-line Collection, 215,952 downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. Circulation, 17,982, including 1,760 downloads. Internet user-sessions, 1,375. Items borrowed from Manitoba libraries, 201. Items loaned to Manitoba libraries, 227.