The first library in the years after Pete moved out. (Pitt Meadows museum)

The first library in the years after Pete moved out. (Pitt Meadows museum)

Looking Back: Books and haircuts

What do they have in common?

Pitt Meadows has had a library of some sort for a very long time.

The original library, established by the Pitt Meadows Women’s Institute shortly after it formed in 1921, was located at the first municipal hall on Harris Road. By 1929, the ladies of the institute had managed to purchase 93 books.

In 1930, the Fraser Valley Public Library had formed and then immediately established a library van system (the Bookmobile) that started visiting Pitt Meadows in February 1931, parking outside the building we now call today the Heritage Hall.

One museum visitor told us several years ago that she remembers calling the van driver of the late 1950s “Herman Sherman,” and by this time the van came and went via Ford Road and would stop at various houses along the way, including having tea with one family from “around the bog.”

In 1932, with regular visits of the van, the institute turned to donating money to the local school district for establishing libraries in schools.

When the group dissolved in 1965, it eventually gave most of its funds to School District No. 42 in order to purchase reference books for the relatively new Pitt Meadows Secondary School.

By 1970, a small library was established in a little house on a site just to the south of what is now 122nd Avenue and just to the north of what is now the municipal hall site.

At first, the library was open 11 hours a week and had only 430 square feet of space as it had to share the building with a barber shop – Pete’s Place.

There were 2,000 books were on the shelves and, by 1971, annual circulation was 8,500.

In 1978, Pete vacated his premises, allowing the library to more than double its size to 1,000 square feet and to operate 24 hours per week.

In October 1988, a new library opened in what is now used as a city hall annex, with a floor space of 7,500 square feet, and was open 39 hours per week, and with a collection of more than 20,000 books.

This library continued in use until Feb. 15, 2012, when its doors closed for the last time.

On Feb. 29 of the same year, the doors opened at the newest library at the corner of Harris Rd. and 122nd Avenue.

Leslie Norman is curator at Pitt Meadows museum.