History of Libraries in the Crowsnest Pass
The history of Libraries in the Crowsnest Pass dates back over 100 years. As early as 1910 there is record of a “Reading Room and Library in Lille”. In 1915 there was a “Free Library at Bellevue” as well as a “Free Library for Frank”, not to forget the “Lending Library at the Drug Store”.
Hillcrest can be mentioned within our history as well. In 1916 “Hillcrest Library received $25 towards books” and that year “Hillcrest Library broke a record lending 170 books”!
In 1929 the “Institute Public Library was available in Blairmore”. In 1931 a Government Charter for the Blairmore Library was obtained, and the “Institute Public Library” then changed its name to “Blairmore Library”. In 1947 a “Film Library was set up in Blairmore.”
In 1960 the Bellevue Library was built at an old office building by the high school. It first opened in 1961. That same year an extension to the Library was built. In 1963 the Bellevue Library moved to the Bellevue School. In 1972 it was moved again to the former Anglican Church.
In 1978 funding for 3 libraries in the Crowsnest Pass was set at $4.00 per capita. That would mean a Library in Coleman, Blairmore, and Bellevue.
In 1979 there was a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Blairmore Library building. This Library building was completed and officially opened in 1980. The formal opening of the Library was attended by a minister and MLA. The Blairmore Library renovated its basement for an art gallery in 1983, and the Allied Arts Association used the basement space from 1985-1990. In 2011 this Library was renamed the Crowsnest Community Library, becoming the only Library to serve the Crowsnest Pass.
In 1980 a new Bellevue Library was planned for Main Street in Bellevue. It officially opened in 1981. This Library was expanded in 1984, and housed the Library until 2004. That year the Bellevue Library moved to MDM building, where it stayed until it was officially closed in 2011. It then became amalgamated with Blairmore Library, moving its resources to that location.
The Coleman Library was started in the early 60’s by the Coleman School District. In the late 60’s the Library was housed in the United Mine Workers Hall. It was later located in the Coleman Arena, and found its last home in the mid 70’s in the basement of the Municipal office. It was closed in 1989 and the collection was absorbed by the Bellevue and Blairmore Libraries.
Blairmore and Bellevue Libraries joined the Chinook Arch Regional Library System in 1999. Wireless internet was introduced in 2008, and in 2009 Videoconferencing Services became available.
“The Crowsnest Pass Municipal Library” became the exclusive provider of Library services for the Crowsnest Pass and surrounding area in 2011. It is housed in the location of the former “Blairmore Library”. This central location for Library services allows for a concentration of enhanced library materials and services for the community.
Information compiled by Diane deLauw, Library Manager, Crowsnest Pass Municipal Library, February 2013.