The Role of the Central Branch
Welcoming over 200,000 visitors last year, the Central Branch is the largest of KFPL's 16 branches. It is a popular destination for people from across the City, serves as a branch for the residents of downtown Kingston and is the library system's corporate head office. In addition to being the administrative centre of the library system, it also houses system-wide services that support all library branches, including materials cataloguing and processing, information technology services and interlibrary loan and shut-in services.
Holding the largest collection of library materials, the Central Branch features unique resources, including local history and genealogical collections. The library's resources are complemented and augmented by those of the Kingston Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society and the Kingston and District Branch of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada.
History of the Central Branch
- 1812~Stephen Miles, publisher of Kingston's first newspaper, started a loan collection, open to the public, in his office.
- 1813~This collection began to be called the "Kingston Social Library" and accepted donations of books.
- 1816~The library service had been transferred to the Court House at King and Clarence Steets and was called the Kingston Library. Subscriptions were 30 shillings a year.
- 1822~George Henry Hart had a circulating library on Store (Princess) Street.
- 1830's~Rowsell's book store on Brock Street had a circulating book service.
- 1834~Kingston Mechanics Institute, the second in Upper Canada, was founded and absorbed the Kingston Library. It was housed over a drugstore on the south east corner of Montreal and Princess Streets.
- 1835~The Mechanics Institute received its first provincial grant for technical equipment but as a library it relied on subscriptions.
- 1836~The Mechanics Institute located over confectionery store at Brock and Wellington Streets.
- 1882~The Free Libraries Act passed, but the Mechanics Institute Library continued as a subscription library and the name remained unchanged.
- 1909~The Kingston City Directory listed the Kingston Public Library for the first time.
- 1910~Children's library work was started.
- 1911~The Library was moved to the Catholic Freeman building on the corner of Bagot and Johnson Streets.
- 1920~A bylaw for a free public library was passed.
- 1925~The Kingston Public Library was moved to the Milk Trust Building at the corner of Bagot and Brock Streets, donated by G.Y. Chown.
- 1927~Library services to schools began.
- 1933~Report of Commission of Enquiry of the Carnegie Corporation on libraries in Canada stated "To see a fine, educated staff doing excellent work one should go to Kingston — one of the few libraries in Canada giving real library service."
- 1948~New wing added to the library building.
- 1950~Music record lending service began.
- 1954~Library began to house, staff and service a film library for the Kingston Film Council.
- 1959~Kingscourt Branch established.
- 1966~Calvin Park Branch established.
- 1972~Notre Dame Convent property acquired by the City.
- 1973~New Central library building placed in City capital budget for 1976.
- 1974~Architects Lily Inglis and Wilfred Sorensen selected by City Council as architects for proposed new central library building.
- 1975~Final building plans accepted by City Council.
- 1975~Ontario Heritage Foundation awarded a grant of $69,174 to the Library Board for the adaptation of the Bishop's House, constructed in the early 1800's, on condition that it be designated under provision of the Ontario Heritage Act and protected as a building of historical and architectural value.
- 1976~Sod turning ceremony took place on May 20.
- 1978~New Central Branch opened to the public March 14.