Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Ste. Marie Collection At the Midland Public Library

There has been a Library in Midland for almost 130 years. For over a hundred of those years it has called only two buildings home – the Carnegie Library on Hugel and the old Post Office on King. This relative stability allowed the Librarians to gather an historical collection that concentrated on local history but also included such things as the Champlain Society publications, now an extensive and valuable collection of Canadiana, and a complete collection of The Jesuit Relations, also relatively hard to find. This material was catalogued, in Dewey, by Library staff as acquired.

In the 80’s a selection of material from the Huronia Historical Resource Centre was donated to the Library. This was stored but as it was not catalogued according to Dewey it was not actually available to the public.

In 2000 the Ste. Marie Historical site closed its Library which was primarily focused on serving academic researchers and site interpreters. The collection was divided with material concerning Discovery Harbour and Penetanguishene going to the Penetang Public Library and most of the rest going to Midland. This material included archeological reports and surveys, interpretive material on the rebuilt Historical Site, biographies, religious histories, native studies, cultural studies of France and New France of the period and etc. in both languages.

This collection was catalogued under Library of Congress rules and though there were cards the Library had since gone to a computerized catalogue so again the collection, though housed in a special room, was essentially inaccessible to the public.

In 2003 these three collections, which were in three separate rooms, were combined and placed in a more temperature controlled space and efforts began to catalogue them all in Dewey and add them to the data base. With over half the collection so catalogued there are still a lot to do but it is now becoming a true public resource.

In the meantime we are acquiring newly published books that are relevant to the collection, we are reassigning some material from the circulating collection to the Ste. Marie Collection, when advisable, and we are consulting with local experts on acquiring other material as budgets and relevance dictate.

The collection now comprises about 1,400 items catalogued and included in the on-line data base and about 800 more that haven’t been process yet. Some of those will be weeded as the process continues. Many are quite rare and have a dollar value, many more are just not easily available in the area and many simply add depth to the collection, which will continue to grow.


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