Pioneer Volunteers (They made it happen)
Early Years From A Recollection of Moments Riondel 1907-2007
Edith was a lifelong reader, and pleasure was a book in hand, and another waiting in the wings. Since Riondel was lacking a library she and Nancy Derbyshire, another great reader, gathered what books they owned and shared them in a box open to everyone down by the old cafeteria and bunkhouse. Following fruitful correspondence with the traveling library in Victoria, Edith and Nancy moved their books to the first recreation hall, and the Riondel Reading Room was born. For many years Edith faithfully ordered books from Victoria and later Cranbrook, and every three months the books would be packed up for return and then unpacked when the latest order arrived. In time the reading room grew into a library and Edith was named the nominal librarian.
by Patricia Nelson
Later On by Muriel Crowe
On Feb 1 1979, Iris Martin, the Secretary of the Bluebell Recreation Club, the sponsoring group, signed and sent to the Ministry of Recreation and Conservation an application to establish a Reading Centre. She noted that a library had operated here since 1962 and that currently they were using a room upstairs in the Recreation Hall. The centre was intended to serve a population of about 400 people from Riondel to Kootenay Bay and would be moving into the “School Recreation Hall” later that year. Funding was listed as a grant from taxes at times.
Digging through other documents I found records of the library holding 400 volumes and for several years they rented books through a government source in Victoria. There are dozens of pink slips requesting books of many genres and about many subjects for the next order. Eventually a reporting system was created by the government and from that point on we can see the growth of the library in contents and memberships
There are many letters regarding assistance from many sources and records of books and equipment purchased. Also, in true Riondel fashion, a request to one of the residents to pick up some lumber the next time he is in Nelson with his pickup truck.
One thing that struck me as I waded through these records is that here were the same volunteers year after year faithfully handling the details. Those most frequently found were Nancy Derbyshire, Muriel Gendron, Edith Nelson and Leslie Downing.
Perhaps the most interesting comparisons for me were the annual statistics that show the growth of contents and use over the years. From a start of 400 which soon increased to 1000 volumes and circulation of around seven hundred items a year we have increased to 11,400 volumes and circulation of 4,400 items at year end 2008. An interesting side note is that the application named the proposed Reading Centre “Riondel Community Library” and that has remained our unofficial title.
Officially we are thirty years old, unofficially 48 years, and we are planning to celebrate in some manner at out Annual Book Sale on the Riondel Daze weekend. Come join us then and better yet come see us before then.