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Huntsville Public Library
7 Minerva Street East, Huntsville, ON, P1H 1W4

Phone: 705-789-5232

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Huntsville Public Library History

Huntsville Library has a history as old as the Town itself. Early settlers recognized the importance of a public library in their community.

Landmark Dates

  • 1880. The Huntsville Public Library began as a Mechanics' Institute. Mechanics' Institutes were established in Great Britain in the early 19th century to provide education for working men through study classes, lectures and library facilities. By the late 19th century the Mechanics' Institutes served principally as libraries, as was the case in Huntsville, supported by membership fees and, usually, small municipal and/or government grants. The first known librarian in Huntsville was William Randalson who served from at least 1893 until 1918.
  • Early years. The library was open for 2-3 hours in the evening during the week and most of Saturday. The fairly extensive collection of periodicals and newspapers available made the Reading Room a popular area in pre-radio and -TV days. The Huntsville Forester reported in 1904 that, "The 3,000 standard (of books in the collection) has at last been reached which makes Huntsville Public Library one of the largest north of Toronto."
  • 1954. By a Town Council By-Law which was approved by a vote of the ratepayers, Huntsville Public Library became a free public library. Thus, membership fees were dropped and membership in the library increased dramatically.
  • 1966. A revised Library Act was passed and Ontario was divided into 14 regional districts. Regional affiliation with Algonquin Regional Library System provided numerous benefits to the Huntsville Public Library, including training of personnel, assistance with programs, help in enlarging the collection and, most importantly, guidance in converting the over 7,000 volume collection to the Dewey Decimal System.
  • 1984. Regional library structures were realigned and Huntsville Public Library became a member of the Trent Regional Library System. At that time, members of the staff were trained and a terminal was installed in the library for a system of on-line interlibrary requests and searching, as well as electronic messaging among libraries.
  • 1991. February 1991 saw the official launch of the new automated library system replacing the card catalogue and print circulation system.  Throughout the 1990's and 2000's, the library has continued to update automated systems.  Patrons are able to access the internet on a regular basis including wireless service.
  • May 1st 2010. The Huntsville Public Library celebrated 130 years of service to the community.


The library has moved at least seven times up and down Main Street until a move to permanent quarters on Minerva Street took place in 1977. In 1995, the library tripled in size with its new addition.

Some Trivia

  • 1896 - Chess was introduced to the library
  • 1935 - Lending policy permitted in-town members to borrow 3 fiction and one non-fiction books at a time
  • 1944 - Story hour for children one Saturday per month was approved
  • 1948 - Library membership fees were raised to $1.00 per year
  • 1953 - The electorate of Huntsville voted in favour of establishing a Free Library
  • 1967 - An Open House was held to introduce the Dewey Decimal system in the library
  • 1971 - Membership in the library totalled 2183 patrons
  • 1977 - The Town of Huntsville purchased property at 7 Minerva St. East as a permanent location for the library
  • 1984 - The Huntsville Forester was made available on microfilm for library users
  • 1990 - The Friends of the Library support group was formed
  • 1991 - The official launch of the new automated library system was well attended
  • 1995 - The grand opening of the expansion of the Huntsville Library was held
  • 1997 - Muskoka Parry Sound Genealogy Group began to offer weekly assistance to patrons wishing to search their family history
  • 2000 - Membership in the library was now 14, 495
  • 2009 - Huntsville Public Library's logo was adopted
  • 2010 - Opening of the Rotary Teen Space took place
  • 2010 - In May, the library celebrated 130 years of service to the community of Huntsville