History of the Sioux Lookout Public Library 

Sarah Vaughn Public Library - Article from Tracks Beside the Water, Volume One


The historical roots of the Sioux Lookout Public Library begin with two women, pioneers that contributed to the foundations of our community. Mary Farlinger and Sarah Vaughan often talked about the need for a library in Sioux Lookout, so it was no surprise when Sarah Vaughan died that she left her books to her friend, Mary Farlinger, to be used to set up a library. In 1936, with books in hand and the use of a small cottage courtesy of the Forestry, Mary Farlinger founded the Sarah Vaughan Memorial Library. Heat was taken care of by a wood stove and members paid a monthly fee of 25 cents. Over the years the library moved to a number of different locations; however, there came a time when no suitable home could be found. The books were stored away in the basement of the YMCA; the town no longer had a library.

In the fall of 1956 a new group of volunteers decided that a town without a library was a town that was lacking! While many community members volunteered to keep the doors open, it soon became apparent that continued financial support was required—the idea of a public library with municipal tax support and provincial grants looked promising. Could Town Council be convinced? As volunteers worked hard to promote the library public support grew, and on January 8, 1958, the Town Council passed Bylaw No. 631, a bylaw to establish a Public Library in Sioux Lookout. The Sarah Vaughan Public Library opened its doors and Sioux Lookout once again had a library.

Since then, the library has been housed in the Post Office, a converted service station, and its current location at 21 Fifth Avenue, on the opposite corner of the old service station. Opening a new building is one thing, moving everything in it is is another. What to do, especially as money was running out? Marianne Williamson, the Chief Librarian, put forward the ingenious idea of having a “human chain gang” move the books by forming a line from inside the old library, across the street, into the new library. The idea was approved, with some trepidation, and on September 11, 1989 police closed off the streets and, working over 10 hours, approximately 1200 people of all ages formed a human chain and moved the books, in order, from the shelves of the old library to shelves in the new library! The grand opening of the Sioux Lookout Public Library took place on October 16, 1989 and was dedicated to Peggy Sanders, who had worked for more than 30 years to initiate, and then improve, library service in Sioux Lookout. She will always be remembered as the heart of the library.

The Sioux Lookout Public Library continues to change and grow in the 21st Century. The success it enjoys is due to the generosity and support of town council, a dedicated library board, helpful staff, and all the patrons who frequent this institution. Sioux Lookout not only has a great library, it has a place where all members of the community can gather to learn, share stories, and discover more about their world.

Memories and Music programme