Hamilton Public Library History
On January 1, 2001 the Hamilton Public Library amalgamated with the Dundas Public Library and the Wentworth Public Library systems to become the Hamilton Public Library in the new City of Hamilton. Today, the Hamilton Public Library serves the community through 24 locations, a virtual branch (www.hpl.ca) and two Bookmobiles.
- On January 7, 1889 the voters of the city of Hamilton passed a by-law to create a public library and by the following month the first Library Board had been formed.
- On March 7th the first chief librarian was appointed: Richard T. Lancefield.
- The cornerstone of the first Hamilton Public Library was laid on October 23rd and the library was officially opened by Lord and Lady Aberdeen on September 16, 1890.
- The library flourished in the early years of the twentieth century and on May 7, 1908 the first branch library was opened on Barton Street East.
- The Library Board began looking at building a new Main Library and, after receiving a grant from Andrew Carnegie of New York, constructed a new building on the south side of Main Street West, across the street and west of the original building. The new Main Library was officially opened by the Lieutenant Governor [and Hamiltonian] Sir John Morison Gibson on May 5, 1913. This library served Hamilton well for the next six decades.
- In the 1960s a drive began to find a new location for a larger library. A location was found in the civic square development and construction began. In May of 1980 H.R.H. Prince Philip officially opened the new building and in October a new Central Library was opened in Lloyd D. Jackson Square.
- The Dundas Public Library had a much longer history than Hamilton as they had their first circulating library (started by William Lyon Mackenzie) operating in 1822. The Dundas Mechanics’ Institute was incorporated in 1857 and in 1883 became the Dundas Public Library.
- The Wentworth County Cooperative Library was founded in 1948 and soon had branches in all the small communities surrounding Hamilton and Dundas.
Many fascinating aspects of Hamilton’s history, including more indepth history on the Library, can be found in the Local History & Archives Department of the Hamilton Public Library.