History of the Library
The Kingston Frontenac Public Library (KFPL) was established in 1998 through the amalgamation of the Kingston Public Library (which began as a 19th century Mechanics Institute) and the Frontenac County Library, creating a 17-branch system. The KFPL serves the city of Kingston and Frontenac County in Ontario, Canada. The library regularly welcomes visitors from outside of this region. The KFPL has a board made up of appointees and representatives from Kingston City Council and Frontenac County Council. The board operates using the Carver Model.
Kingston has had a lending library since 1812. While the city's first library collections were provided by private citizens, anyone could borrow books for a small fee.
In 1834, when the Kingston Mechanics Institute was established, it absorbed the Kingston Library and was housed over a drugstore at Montreal and Princess. The Mechanics Institute Library made several moves during the 1800s: from above a confectionery store, to a former inn and coach station (currently Vandervoort's General Store), to an upper apartment at 21 Montreal Street.
By the time it took up residence in an empty butcher shop in 1911, it had already been listed in the Kingston City Directory as Kingston Public Library. One more move – to the Milk Trust Building at the corner of Brock and Bagot Street – brought the library to its home from 1925 until the construction of a new building at Johnson and Bagot, which became the library's Central branch in 1978.
This building adjoins the former residence of Bishop Alexander Macdonnell (later the Notre Dame Convent), a limestone structure (fittingly) built circa 1812.
Kingscourt Branch was added in 1959 and Calvin Park in 1966, bringing the urban system to a total of three locations.
The passing of the Public Libraries Act in 1895 was followed by the creation of a library in Sydenham in 1903. Before the Frontenac County Library system was established, Pittsburgh and Kingston Townships received a rotating supply of books from the Kingston Public Library, and, as a “remote area,” Wolfe Island received shipments of books from the Travelling Library Service operating out of Toronto.
Arden, Sharbot Lake, Hartington, Cloyne and Sydenham joined the new County library system in 1969, followed by Storrington (1970), Barriefield (1971), and Mountain Grove (1972). Growth continued during the 1970s, as the Days Road Kingston Township branch opened in 1974, Ompah in 1977, and Parham in 1979. Hartington and Storrington libraries moved to their current locations in 1982, and branches were opened on Howe Island and Wolfe Island in 1984 and in Plevna in 1986. In December 1997 the newly built Isabel Turner Branch opened its doors.
1998 saw the province-wide municipal amalgamation which joined the Kingston Public Library to the Frontenac County Library, creating the 17-branch Kingston Frontenac Public Library.
The Calvin Park branch, which first opened in 1966, re-opened in September of 2009 in a beautiful new building on the existing site.
In 2017, the Kingscourt Branch finally closed after fifty-eight years of service, making way for the opening of the new Rideau Heights Branch on April 21, 2018.
In December 2016 the Central Library closed for extensive renovations, and is scheduled to re-open later in 2018. Stay up-to-date, see photos and study floor plans on our Central Renovations page.
Discussions about renovations to the Pittsburgh Branch are now underway. Stay tuned for future developments!