The notion of a library as a warehouse for books is a cliché long due for retirement along with the shushing librarian — and yet as a narrative, it owes a lot to history.
The Nelson Public Library examines its own evolution in this, its centenary year, in partnership with Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History. Turning Pages: Celebrating 100 Years of the Nelson Public Library runs September 12 to November 22, where a century of reading, public programming, galloping technology, and an expanding societal role is chronicled through timeline, text, historic images, illustrations, and audiovisual components.
A companion book complements the Gallery B exhibition. There will be an opening reception on Friday, September 11 from 6-9 p.m.
In order to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, pre-registered participants will have 30 minutes to peruse the Gallery, talk with guest curator Anne DeGrace and Librarian Tracey Therrien, and collect a copy of the companion book. There will be a maximum of 10 people in Gallery A, 5 people in Gallery B and 10 people in the lobby area. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-352-9813 to register.
It begins, of course, at the beginning.
“Yesterday a Miner reporter had considerable difficulty in making his way through the crowd of people gathered in the reading room to the librarian’s office,” wrote the Nelson Miner in 1899 of the fledgling library’s popularity.
More than two decades would pass before the Nelson Library’s official incorporation in January 1920.
As a community institution, the Library began as a gatekeeper to a collection of books uneven both in content and access, but it would evolve into something much more inclusive.
Today, the Nelson Library embraces its role as a barrier-free community resource, social hub, and information provider and navigation service.
Both the Museum and Library aim to be players in the societal narrative by enabling learning opportunities about culture, decolonization, and all the different ways humans co-exist. In today’s narrative, everyone is welcome, books and collections are but a part of the story, and the library or museum are seldom quiet places.
It is through an understanding of the past that we examine our potential, which is why the Nelson Public Library centenary exhibition offers a rich opportunity as they craft the next chapter.