Brief History of the Welland Public Library


First anniversary meeting of the shareholders of the Welland Library Company at the School House near Brown’s Bridge on Saturday, November 26, 1825. Shareholders compiled by-laws including charges for damaged books. James Brown was chosen to be honorary librarian.


The Welland Library Association amalgamated with the Mechanic’s Institute of Merrittsville. New organization became known as the “Welland Mechanic’s Institute”. The Library comprised upwards of 300 volumes.

The population of Welland was 750. (Incorporated into a village, July 4th, 1858.)


The Welland Mechanic’s Institute purchased $300 worth of books and received $100 in local contributions and $200 grant from the Provincial Bureau of Agriculture.


Welland incorporated into a Town on January 1st, 1878.


Library was situated at the J. H. Burger’s Drug Store. The total number of members was 142


The Library became officially known as “Welland Public Library” in accordance with the changes in the Public Libraries Act. The sign on the door changed to “Public Library”. The library was situated at McCall’s Store for rent of approximately $21 for three months including wood, etc.


Books were classified and numbered. First library catalogue printed.


Library moved to rooms in the new Town Hall.


A copy of Dewey’s Classification was purchased. Population of Welland was 1,795.


First consideration and negotiation for a Carnegie Library in the town.


Carnegie Foundation promised the City of Welland $20,000 to “provide a Free Public Library Building on certain conditions”.

Welland’s population was 6,244.


Many ethnic groups begin to arrive in Welland. Negotiations continued between the Library Board, City and Carnegie Foundation.


On May 10th, the Carnegie Corporation’s offer was accepted for a $30,000 building. $25,000 being from the Carnegie Corporation and $5,000 from the City of Welland.


New Carnegie Library constructed. The architect, Norman Kearns, chose a Georgian Colonial style as the basis of the exterior design.

Early 1930s

Hungarian priest was asked for a list of Hungarian books “suitable for library use”. This was the beginning of the Library’s multilingual collection. A request for materials in French was made by the French priest a few years later.


The library was open for a total of 58 hours a week. 3070 adults had library cards and 3382 children were using the library.

Welland celebrated its first 100 years. Population of the city was 17,433.


At the time the Library had a book stock of 42,302 volumes, and 11,152 children’s books. There were 7,756 borrowers using the library. The 1960 circulation was 175,940. Two-storey addition added to north side of library- included fiction area and meeting room.

Parts of Crowland, Thorold, Humberstone and Pelham Townships were annexed to the City of Welland on January 1st 1961, making a population of 36,000.


Three-story addition added to the rear of the library and included reference and audiovisual departments.


Library’s card catalogue replaced with an OPAC system (Online Public Access Catalogue).


Internet access was made available at the Library.

City of Welland population was 48,411.


The Library began subscribing to online databases offering a wide range of full-text periodicals, newspapers, and other research materials to library users.


The Library received the Angus Mowat Award of Excellence from the Province of Ontario for its online digital site documenting the history of the Welland Canal.


In May, the Library occupied its new facility at 50 The Boardwalk as part of the new City of Welland Civic Square which held its official opening on June 28. The Library began publication of its first official newsletter: “Boardwalk Banter”.


On October 14, the Carnegie Building at 140 King Street, received a heritage designation from Heritage Welland. The former library was now the home of the Welland Museum.


The Library continues to introduce new technology with the recent introduction of downloadable audiobooks, Freegal: free music downloads and eReaders available for loan.


On September 3, 2013, a new branch of The Welland Public Library opens at Diamond Trail Public School (formerly Matthews School) at 315 Southworth Street.


In January of 2016, the Library unveils its latest technological addition: a Flashforge Dreamer 3D Printer.  3D printers print three-dimensional objects by layering and building up thin planes of plastic or other materials.


The Innovation Station takes centre stage at the Main Branch in January.  Features include public access to our 3D printer, a scanner for old slides and photos, and a VHS to digital converter.