Alexander Calhoun and Staff at the Circulation Desk, 1912
Central Library December 2011
We are 100 years old this month. That is quite an accomplishment and we are all very proud to be part of this wonderful institution. But, we wouldn’t be here without you (and possibly your ancestors). So, what were your ancestors up to in 1912? What books were they reading?
On the library shelves were (to quote the Calgary Daily Herald) “standard works on almost every subject of every day interest, music, arts, natural history…and an excellent collection of fiction, both old and new.” Within days of opening, the shelves were bare. The Chief Librarian, Alexander Calhoun, recognized that he had a hit on his hands and immediately started building the collection. In March 1912 a huge number of books were added, among them Seton’s Arctic Prairies and Allibone’s Dictionary of English Literature, both of which are still in our collection.
So, what were they reading? The most popular authors of the day were Alexandre Dumas, Gilbert Parker, Ralph Connor, Robert Service and Lucy Maud Montgomery. That first year, circulation was 114,566 and registration reached 8900.