We contribute to the well-being and health of our community by providing information, supporting literacy and bringing people together. Through our participation in Marigold Library System, our library is a single point of access to millions of books, audiobooks, eBooks, DVDs, events and more.
In 1948, the Three Hills Lady Byng of Vimy Chapter of the I.O.D.E. (Independent Order of Daughters of the Empire) decided to establish a community library. Town council authorized the use of a small room in the old Town Office on 4th Avenue S. The building had no basement or central heating. The IODE members were not discouraged! They cleaned the room allotted; organized a house-to-house book drive and purchased supplies to prepare the approximately 550 books donated for circulation. Local business men: Les Crawshaw, Roy Little, Frank Morrell, Mervin Helton, and George Mashford voluntarily built and painted shelves. Art G. Davies donated an office desk and chair. Doreen Colwell, the first Library Convener, was responsible for scheduling IODE members as librarians each week. She also kept financial and circulation records. Other Library Conveners up to 1962 were Marie Shearlaw, Bess Wright, Dorie Shearlaw, and Edith Helton.
The library opened to the public the first week of August 1949. Hours of operation were 3-5pm on Wednesday and 2-5 on Saturday. Membership fee for adults was $1.00 and children 50 cents per years. Overdue book fines were five cents per book. Bake sales, teas, raffles and rummage sales provided funds for operation. Local organizations also made donations. Provincial Government grants to community libraries at that time were dollar for dollar based on the amount spent for new books. Chapter members were thrilled when they were able to apply for a $100.00 grant!
Town Council remodelled the building in the early 1950's constructing a full-size basement and adding central heating. The Council Office was moved to the basement. The library was assigned the north room upstairs, a former classroom. The IODE purchased more shelving. An upholstered lounge and chair were donated. A major purchase of linoleum was made in 1954. An open house was held on February 6th to show off the improvements. To supplement the book supply, boxes of 40 books were borrowed from the University of Alberta Extension Library. These could be kept for three months. Essay and poster contests encouraged school children to use the library.
IODE continued to operate the library until Town Council agreed to assume the responsibility in 1962. E.T. Wiltshire, Supervisor of Public Libraries, Cultural Activities Branch, attended the organization meeting of the first Three Hills Municipal Library Board. He explained the grant system both government and municipal. Edith Helton was asked to act as Library Custodian and offered a $40 per month wage. Hours of operation, membership fees, and fines remained the same. IODE was extended the privilege of using the library for their meetings.
The Three Hills Municipal Library joined the Marigold Library System in 1980 to utilize available services, book purchasing and processing, interlibrary loans, and computerized cataloguing. Extensive renovations in 1981 were done to double the floor space. An outdoor ramp, carpeted floor, drapes, new shelving, charge-out desk and a washroom were added. In 1986, the first library computer was purchased. The Marigold Library System 1986 Annual Report showed Three Hills circulation of books to be 16,539; interlibrary loans requested 692. The membership in 1987 was approximately 800.
As the library has continued to grow and modernize there have been some pivotal events in its history. In 1995 the library moved to 160-3 Avenue South where it operated for 22 years. Mayor Bob Robertson was instrumental in bringing this move about. Also, after two years of extensive work, the library was fully computerized and on February 17, 1998 the automation at the library circulation desk began. In September of the same year the library was hooked up to the internet and began offering this service to the public. Over time more computers have been added to the system as a result of fundraising and generous donations.
Other noteworthy events include the inception of the Golden Hills Lodge Book Delivery Program. Beginning in 1993, this program gives library access to about 50 Lodge residents. This same year, the Children’s Summer Reading Program began with 81 children participating. The weekly Preschool drop-in and After School Programs continue to be very popular as well. And of course the move to the library’s present location, 135 2nd Avenue South, in January 2017, brought the library full circle as it took residence in another previous Town Office building. The library’s newest space is full of natural light, a larger program room and several other exciting improvements which benefit both staff and patrons.
Three Hills library has hosted many informative and unique programs over the years, including art exhibitions, presentations by local guests and video conferences through Marigold’s RISE network and other educational providers. At present the library has two full time Library Staff and part-time Program Coordinator, as well as a Weekly Children’s Program Coordinator. They also have several volunteers without whom the day to day running of the library would prove difficult. The library hopes to continue to grow and develop in how it serves its community and patrons.