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A Brief History of Norwich Public Library

Norwich has had a continuous library service since 1876. The original subscription rate was $2.00 for men and $1.00 for ladies over 18 years of age. The library has been in several locations - in the "Standard" printing office, over Pitcher's store, in the Miller block and over Haken's Drug store. When the latter location was destroyed by fire, the library moved to the Moore block. In 1914 the library was endowed by the Carnegie fund and the present library was built. In 1936, Norwich became a member of the Oxford County Library system. It no longer costs to join the library, and we offer high speed internet access, community and government information as well as the usual reading materials in print and on tape.
*Disclaimer* This information was compiled from a collection of articles from the Norwich Archives. Articles pertaining to the Norwich Library are available at the Norwich Archives, located at R.R. # 3 Norwich, Ontario,N0J 1P0. Due to discrepancies between articles, some dates listed could be wrong. This information was compiled with the intention of being as accurate as possible, but it is necessary to note that the discrepancies do exist.

December 1876 - "Mechanics's Institute" formed. A room in the printing office is designated as a reading room. W.T. Turney is designated as president. Subscription rates were $2.00 for males and $1.00 for females over the age of 18 per year. They receive a legislative grant of $4.00.

The library has had several homes over the years. Over Pitcher's store, in the Miller Block, in the Moore Block, and over Haken's Drug Store.

1899 or 1900 - Fire breaks out in the Tidey Block and soon develops in Haken's Drug Store. Over 3000 volumes are lost to fire and the library is only insured for $500.00

1913-1915 - Thanks to a petition signed by 50 people, the Norwich Council decides to help begin a public library. The library is endowed by the Carnegie Fund. The Carnegie Foundation offers $7000.00 towards the construction of a permanent library building (the current library building) if the municipality agrees to pay $700.00 for the operation and maintenance of the library. Final cost for the building is $7009.44.

1936 - Norwich Library joins the Oxford County Library Association.

1953 - A bookmobile service increases the number of books available at the Norwich Library.

1965 - Norwich Library becomes a branch of the Oxford County Library System.

1973 - The library is redecorated including a new roof, wall to wall carpeting and matching drapes, decorated walls, new book racks, colourful new tables and chairs, an antique screen, a new hot water tank, and a book receptacle to collect books when the library is closed. A new telephone is also installed.

1976 - Norwich Library celebrates its 100th birthday.

1985 - April and Susan from the Mr. Dress-Up Show visit the library to hold a performance.

April 1988 - Canadian Poet David McFadden visits the library to read poetry from his latest collection.

1995 - Each Oxford County household contributes $40.00 to support public libraries in the county. The Norwich Optimist Club donates $250.00 for the purchase of children's books.

1997 - Norwich Optimist Club donates time and money to redecorate the library. Redecorating includes painting the walls, blinds for the windows, and brand new carpeting. It is estimated to cost $10,000.00 in material goods and labour.

It is interesting to note that this figure is $3000.00 more than the cost of the building when it was made in 1913-1914.

1998 - The library receives funding to become a CAP (Community Access Program) site. Funding includes the purchase of three computers networked together, computer desks and chairs. North Norwich Telephones provides Internet access allowing the library to offer free access to the computers and the Internet.


14letter.gif: A letter dated May 8th 1914. This letter explains that if the village will agree to pay $700.00 per year then the Carnegie Corporation will be willing to give $7000.00 towards the construction of a library building (or bilding as it's spelled in 1914).

15letter.gif: A letter dated September 24th 1915 that says that the $7000.00 is now available and payments will be made in installments of $1000.00 or $2000.00.

blabel.gif: A scan of a photocopy of an original book label from around 1900. It appears that it was placed in each book so that each book could have a different loan time.