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Fr. H. Drake Library (St. Paul's College): History Of The Library

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History Of The Library


In 1931, St. Paul's College affiliated with the University of Manitoba. There were no graduates that first year. However, from 1932-33, there were 47 students and 4 graduates. In 1935, the St. Paul's College Free Lending and Reading Library officially began as an aid to St. Paul's students. With 100 books, the library operated out of the parlor of St. Paul's College.

Five years later, the Most Reverend Archbishop Sinnott, founder of the College, officiated the formal opening of the Library to the public. The Library now contained 2000 holdings. In addition to supporting College programs, it could now fill a long wanted need in the Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg. Library hours were from 3:30 to 9:30 daily. The loaning period was 2 weeks. Its collection consisted largely of general reading material including fiction and nonfiction. Some attention was given to Catholica, Philosophy, History and English.

By 1946, St. Paul's College formally established its own Library Guild. Holdings now topped 4000. The principle mandate of the Guild was to raise funds for more acquisitions and to increase the number of library patrons.

By 1950, the Library had an annual circulation rate of 12,000 volumes. In 1958, St. Paul's College moved to the University of Manitoba campus. Fr. A. Cotter, Librarian, and two students moved 20,000 books to the new location. "A hot dusty job for a hot day," proclaimed the Winnipeg Tribune. To which Fr. Cotter added, "nobody has invented a way of getting a book on or off a shelf except by hand."

Also in 1958, Peggy Gardiner was hired as librarian for the new library. She is credited for cataloguing and organizing the collection at this new site. In 1959, Fr. Harold Drake, sj, replaced Fr. Cotter. Peggy Gardiner left the library in 1969.

In 1992, Earle Ferguson replaced Fr. Drake as unit head, followed briefly by Jane Duffy, then Georgina Lewis who was unit head for 10 years. She retired August 2011. Jim Blanchard replaced Georgina as unit head and retired at the end of 2014. Nicole Michaud-Oystryk, former  head of Elizabeth Dafoe Library, was  head of the Fr. Harold Drake, SJ Library from 2014-17.  Joshua Herter was Reference Librarian for St. Paul’s, St John’s and Elizabeth Dafoe Library from September to May 2014/15. Katherine Penner was Catholic Studies Librarian from 2015 to 2017. Currently, Dominique Taylor is Catholic Studies and Political Studies Librarian for St. Paul's College, and  Emma Popowich is acting head of Elizabeth Dafoe, St. Paul's and St. John's Libraries.

Bill Wsiaki began working for the University of Manitoba Libraries Sep.27, 1973. He began his career at the Architecture/Fine Arts Library, then transferred to St. Paul’s College a year later. On April 6, 1981, he replaced Jean England as Library Supervisor. On June 9, 2016, he received the University of Manitoba Service Award in recognition of excellence in service to the U of M community, innovation in service enhancement and promotion of a positive work environment. Bill celebrated 45 years of service at the U of M on Sep.27, 2018. He retired January 16, 2019.

from the archives

Library on third floor 1960

Fr. Drake at his desk 1966

Construction of present library 1970

Bill Wsiaki