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History of the Library

Taken from Pioneer Days of Nakusp and the Arrow Lakes by Kate Johnson and from Nakusp Public Library records:

Most of the early libraries in Nakusp were associated with churches. The first library opened on December 22nd, 1893.

In 1912 a library opened in the Glenbank Methodist log church. In the same year, a government library began in the government office.
In 1915 the Presbyterian Church opened a Sunday school library, with Alfred Harvey Smith as librarian.
In 1920 the Nakusp Public Library Association was registered in Victoria.  The Nakusp Public Library officially opened in January of 1921, under the auspices of the Women’s Institute.  Mr. R. Struthers was the librarian.  The entire collection was housed in the upper room of the Co-operative Hall above the Co-operative Store on Broadway Street (now the site of BDO Dunwoody LLP).  This operated during the next five years. In 1926 the collection was moved into the gallery in the rear of James Hakeman’s

General Store on Broadway Street (now the site of CIBC).
The librarians during this period were:

  • Lois Buhl (February to September 1922)
  • Mildred Gardner (September 1922 to ?)
  • Katharine McDougal (? to 1925)
  • Mrs. Mayoh (1926 to 1928)
  • Miss LaRue (1928 to 1929)
  • Mary Baird (1929 to 1933)
  • Nellie Johnston (1933 to 1934)

In January 1931 the books were stored in Mr. Somer’s store on Broadway Street (now the site of Selkirk Realty). Soon they were moved into F.W. Jordan’s store on Broadway Street (now the site of CIBC), where they remained until October 1931.  In 1931 they were moved into a small building owned by and next to Eugene Leveque’s barbershop (now the site of 88 4th Ave. S.W., just north of the Leland Hotel), where they remained until 1934.

In 1933 the library was open four hours per week, with only two books allowed per patron at a time.  During the depression years the library struggled to survive and eventually closed in February of 1934 due to insufficient funds.  At this time the books were put into storage in the courthouse.
On November 24, 1950, the library re-opened under the auspices of the Women’s Institute. A book shower was held and books were donated to the collection.  Through the courtesy of the School Board, an unused classroom in the High School was loaned for the temporary use of the public library.  Mary Baird was appointed the new librarian.
In 1952, the library joined the Provincial Library Association and was thereby passed out of the hands of the Women’s Institute.  The library would now receive $250.00 per annum, to be equally matched by the local community.   Four hundred books were loaned to the new library by the travelling library in Victoria each year.  Various volunteers managed the new library.
In 1954, the School Board required the room occupied by the library, so the books were once again relocated, this time to a room above the Anglican Parish Hall (now the site of the government liquor store).
In January of 1955, library cards were first introduced by the Nakusp Public Library.  There were 165 registered patrons — 95 adults and 70 children.  Jean Robison assumed the role as librarian, which she continued for twenty years.

Kate Johnson writes in “The Pioneer Days of Nakusp and the Arrow Lakes”:  “Early in 1957 the old High School building (which is now the Centennial Building and the location of the present library) was sold to the Nakusp Centennial Committee.  A room was chosen for a library in this building, which was to be ready for occupancy in 1958 in accordance with the rules governing the Centennial Celebrations.  Several schemes were brought before the voters and a plebiscite was taken in June 1957 with the result that the old High School building and grounds were voted for with the idea of an adequate public library and museum.”

The Nakusp Public Library was officially opened as a Centennial Project on Sunday, June 29th, 1958 with approximately 3,000 books, and the building became known as the Centennial Building. The Recreation Commission received the title to the Centennial Building because the Library could not afford the upkeep of the building.  The Village of Nakusp now holds title to the building.
In 1968 the West Kootenay Library Association was formed.  It included the public libraries of Castlegar, Creston, Grand Forks, Greenwood, Kaslo, Nakusp, Nelson and Trail.
In 1975, Eleanor Schroff was appointed as the first paid librarian.  She retired in 1979, and Evelyn Goodell became the librarian.
In 1990, the library received its first computer.
In 1992 Marilyn Misutka and Evelyn Goodell teamed up as co-librarians.  The library was open 21 hours a week, including two evenings.
In 1996 the library received a B.C. 21 Grant from the Public Library Services Branch for the purpose of automating the library.  Funds were also received from the Regional District of Central Kootenay and B.C. Hydro for the automation project.  The automation process was completed in July 2000.

Marilyn Misutka became the head librarian and Susan Rogers became the assistant librarian when Evelyn Goodell took a leave in 1999.
The library launched its first website in September of 2003.

Upon Marilyn’s retirement in June 2004, Evelyn Goodell returned as head librarian and Susan Rogers continued as the assistant librarian.

Evelyn decided to retire in spring of 2011.  The Nakusp Library posted a job search throughout British Columbia.  Sabina Iseli-Otto, living on Gabriola Island, was thrilled to move to Nakusp and began the position of head librarian in April 2011.  Susan remained the assistant librarian.

In January of 2013, Sabina Iseli-Otto handed in her resignation and Susan Rogers took over head position on February 1st.  Patty Riley became adult services and interlibrary loan librarian and Cindy Schroff was youth and outreach librarian.

Patty Riley retired in July 2014.   Amy Manegre was hired as her replacement in August.

Expansion and Remodel

In December 2005 the Library began making plans to expand into the adjacent office space in the Centennial Building, which had been recently vacated by the Nakusp

Village Office.  The building inspectors office was also vacated which made for a lovely lounge, new book, and magazine area.

The expansion and remodel project was the fruition of 15 years of planning, fundraising ans saving money.

The Library had been housed in the same space in the Centennial Building since 1958, for nearly 50 years, and during that time the collection had grown from 3,000 books to a collection of 16,500 books, videos and DVDs, audio books, and magazines.  Membership had grown from 13% of the population to 61%–from 230 patrons to 1,941.  Annual circulation had grown from 6,135 to 33,453.

In 2005 the Community expressed its support for the expansion and remodel project when it gave the project the most votes in the CBT Community Initiative plebiscite. The community also supported the project with donations and through fundraising efforts for years.

In 2005 the Literacy Now Community Report (a provincially directed study conducted by communities) declared that an expanded Nakusp Public Library was the number one literacy priority in the community.

Renovation and expansion officially started on April 24, 2006 and was completed in 2007.  The library’s space nearly tripled, and the remodel included new flooring, painting, and new shelving and furniture. The expansion and renovation made it possible for patrons to enjoy an attractive library where there is space for comfortable seating, study areas, computers, space for artists to display their work, and room for the collection to grow.


Kootenay Library Federation

In 2006 the Kootenay Library Federation ( was formed from the West Kootenay and East Kootenay Library Associations.

The Nakusp Public Library is a founding member.  The Kootenay Library Federation is comprised of 19 public libraries situated in the Boundary and the East and West Kootenays. The libraries work co-operatively to improve library service in the region by collaboration on projects, sharing of resources, and by providing support to all members.