Lambie’s Hall (1894 – 1903)
The first library in Windsor opened in December 1894. A City of Windsor bylaw introduced permitting the development of a public library in Windsor had been submitted, and carried by a majority earlier in the year. City council and the Board of Education appointed representatives for the new library board, who, in turn, appointed a librarian and an assistant librarian. The motto of the new library board was, “Aude sapere” meaning “dare to be wise.” The public library and reading room were located in Lambie’s Hall. Built it 1855, Lambie’s Hall was located at the corner of Pitt and Ferry Streets and was previously the first Protestant church in Windsor.
Borrowers selected books from a list and the librarian retrieved the library books from the shelves. Books could be read in the adjoining Reading Room, or taken home by cardholders. Windsor residents who paid five cents a year for the privilege of borrowing books could take out one book at a time. Of the over 5,000 books in the library when it opened, works of fiction were the most popular, followed by juvenile literature, periodicals and history.
Rules were introduced for the safety and use of the library which the librarian had to enforce. The librarian quickly found once customers were aware, they would usually comply with rules prohibiting smoking or pets and for requiring quiet in the library and reading room.
Walkerville and Sandwich councils were approached by the Windsor Public Library Board to make arrangements for library services available to their residents. In 1896, Walkerville Council agreed, paying $175 for the year. This agreement continued until Walkerville established its own library in 1905.
By 1898 there were 1,428 Windsor Public Library cardholders and there was a need for larger and improved library accommodations. More than 7,500 books also required cataloguing in order to locate requested reading material. Andrew Braid, secretary of the Windsor St. Andrew’s Society and the WPL board, wrote to American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to request funds for a public library. Carnegie, who made billions in the steel industry, donated funds that founded 156 libraries in Canada.
In 1901, because of the persistence of Andrew Braid, Carnegie agreed to fund the construction of a library in Windsor. After several delays, construction of the new library began in 1903 at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Park Street. Once the new library was built, the contents of the library at Lambie’s Hall were transferred to the new Carnegie Library.