Manitoba. Department of Education & Training
School Programs Division
Education Resources Branch
1181 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 0T5 Canada
100th Anniversary 20 June 2016
A Short History
Gerald R. Brown
First let us acknowledge that we are on Treaty One and Metis Land, and let us recognize that we are here to respect the contributions of all citizens and to improve the lives of each other.
“It take a whole village to raise a child”. Granted that while this is a common African proverb, it applies to us in Manitoba, and it gives a perfect frame of reference for the scope of school library services in the Ministry of Education in Manitoba. The whole village must come together to provide the best quality service possible.
When we wish to review the history of an institution such as Manitoba Education Library on this significant 100th anniversary, we must remember that we got here by “standing on the shoulders of giants who came before us”. As we look around today, let us think about some of these giants.
“Tradition is, not to preserve the ashes, but to pass on the fire.” - Gustav Mahler
We are in the Robert Fletcher Building named in honor of the first Deputy Minister of Education (1908–1939). It was during his term in office that the School Library Department was opened, as reported by Edgar Burgess* in the Department Report for the year 1916, thusly:
“The purpose was to administer, in the form of books approved by
the supervisor, the library grant that is now made to schools.
There were 1409 one-room schools with no high school standing.
They were to receive $10.00 per year per teacher.”
It was noted that there was an emphasis on publications from the UK.
The library was opened in July 1916 in the Legislative Building (Room 138). Myrtle Taylor Lewis* was the first librarian. She served from 1920–1955. Ms Lewis was born at Wakopa, near Killarney MB. She attended Manitoba schools, and then graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honors degree in English and History. From the outset Ms Lewis was responsible for seeing that the book purchasing grants of $ 10.00 were spent wisely for new library materials. She reviewed the items available from publishers, and prepared an annual selected list from which the teachers in one-room rural schools (Gr. 1 – 8) could choose their materials. Considering that many items cost less than 10 cents, several titles could be obtained. Examples might include:
Nelson’s Picture Readers, with titles such as
A Box of Toys, Neddy Bray’s Story, Mary had a little lamb,
and Our Railway Ride, each costing 3 cents
The Three Bears - 5 cents
The Ugly Duckling - 7 cents
The Great Explorers of Canada - 20 cents
Essays for Girls and boys – A First Guide to the Study of the War - $ 1.50
Book of Knowledge (20 vol. encyclopedia) - $ 40.00
The school collections were always small, and, according to Inspector reports, usually well-worn. Over the years, while school boards were expected to increase the funds for library materials, money was often not readily available. When new schools were opened, gift collections were frequently supplied. When the Depression hit, new books were not available. The grants were suspended from 1930–1935. Some Inspector’s Reports lament the lack of books for pleasure reading in many schools during this time. The pre-selection program continued until the late 1960s. The library grant itself lasted until 1981, when it was incorporated into the current block grant system.
Another giant from that era was Margaret Johnson *(1882–1921) who is remembered as the first school librarian at the Winnipeg Collegiate (then housed in Isaac Brock School). She was recognized as a leader in providing resources for a rich English and History program in those early years. Ms Johnson and Ms Lewis were close friends, and worked steadily to improve the lot of libraries in schools.
The Open Shelf Library was intended to provide support for teachers and other leaders particularly in rural communities. It included teachers’ reference books. The choice of books varied, but the emphasis was on Psychology, Education, History, Biography and Travel. Materials could be sent by mail, if the teacher knew about the service and requested the assistance. Teacher use of reading resources from the Open Shelf Library received an impetus from the ‘new’ postal regulations which made books available for circulation at a greatly reduced cost. This collection gradually grew to include samples of all the books that had been recommended for grant purposes between the years 1916–1968. It also included documents that were received from Education Departments in other provinces and international books and journals. This was the beginning of the current ‘open shelf service’ which the public can access today.
The move to Room 42 in The Legislative Building provided space for the Reading Room, which became the heart of the public service, with reference questions coming mostly from the Members of the Legislature and the civil servants. Teachers and citizens could also access this service.
Mr R. B. Vaughan* reported on the Travelling Library service from 1923–39 which was made available to communities through the Department of Agriculture. Boxes of books would be sent to a community (where there was a person, store, or other agency to look after the circulation.). These books, usually for adults, often dealt with agricultural topics, science issues, history and biography. This program was strongly supported by the Women’s Institute programs across the province, and by the Home Economist s who provided workshops and training courses in many areas. This program was later continued by the Extension Service of the University of Manitoba. Mr George Noble worked in this service until the late 1960s. I am personally familiar with this service, as it was the main source of reading materials in my community when I was in secondary school.
Visual Education Branch reports may be found in Departmental Annual Reports. By 1938 the use of 16 mm films was in place in urban areas, and by officers who could take projectors with them to rural events (where electricity was available.) Mr E. (Ted) Armstrong* headed this service from 1942 until 1971. He was recognized by the Association for Media and Technology in Education in Canada as a giant and for his “pioneering work in this area”. Circulation of 16 mm film, filmstrips and some kits were available to rural schools by mail service. Bob Rose continued to manage this circulation program in the 70s. In the 1980s, Phyllis Barich* was named to be Head, AV Services as part of IRU. She played a vital role in developing the 16 mm film, video, kits and software collection for use in schools and in collaboration with the curriculum consultants in the Department. She was always open to suggestions for new material. She attended the Banff Film Showcase on a regular basis to become familiar with current releases.
In 1935, the Manitoba Library Association was formed. Ms Lewis was a moving force in motivating the library staff from schools, public libraries and university services to come together and work as a team. This organization was able to raise the voice of the citizens to the public servants and politicians.
In 1938, the Manitoba Association of School Librarians was formed, again with the encouragement of Ms Lewis, and school leaders, such as Jean Miller* and other teachers and administrators working in secondary schools in the Metro area. They were an active group, who advocated directly to school board officials and government leaders.
Also in 1938, the Margaret Johnson Memorial Library collection, which had been started in her honor by Winnipeg Teachers Association (WTA), and which had been housed at the City Library, was moved to the Reading Room of the Manitoba Education Library. The material was available to persons able to come to the Legislative Building to access the books. There was a significant historical collection of materials that were considered important for teacher preparation for academic study, for background preparation of government exams, and for teachers preparing for certification. In 1970, this collection was moved to the Manitoba Teachers Society’s McMaster House. The Librarian at that time was Susan Rogers. When the MTS library was closed in 1978, and when the materials were being dispersed, staff from Manitoba Education Library selected some of the material to be returned to the 1181 Collection, thus completing the circle. Archival services and research services are now undertaken by the MTS officers.
Another significant giant step, still in the time of Robert Fletcher, was the beginning of the Manitoba School Journal (1938–1974). It was a method of reporting program changes, innovative methods, building design samples, teacher education practices and programs, and student work. From an historical perspective, “this documentation is gold”. It tells us what was happening, and the vision that was driving education of the time. Over the years, during her term in office, Ms Lewis contributed regularly to the publication. She often listed titles of particular interest for school purchase or for central loan. In addition, she posted items about forthcoming events. In a 1953 edition, there was a notice of Young Canada Book Week (an event which is still observed today), as a vehicle to promote Canadian publishing and to encourage reading widely.
Education Manitoba (1974–2015) became the subsequent official publication, and was a vital tool to keep teachers and administrators attuned to current developments. The coverage of programs, people, places and events was an excellent record.
Concurrent with these above events, Gertude McCance* was appointed to the School Broadcast Branch. From 1943–1975, she became a giant, a leader and a role model in the ‘sharing of information field across Canada’. She was succeeded in this office by Glenn Harrison. SBB was a vital connection to many urban and rural schools using the CBC, with the early radio programs providing music and art education to schools where many teachers had limited training in the field. Later, the program expanded to include television offerings, as well as audio and video dubbing services. The programs were quite extensive, covering many subjects and grades, and presenting exemplar teachers demonstrating quality instructional methods. Manitoba programs were highly applauded by other provinces, and awards were received to recognize their excellence. Negotiations were carried on across the provinces to share productions too. In 1965, McCance worked closely with schools in St. Vital to establish a school-based television experiment.
In 1955, the library had outgrown the facilities at the Legislative Building. It was moved, along with theManitoba Textbook Bureau, to 146 Notre Dame Avenue, where more spacious quarters were found on the third floor. While the new facilities provided more space, something was lost in the ability to communicate easily and directly with the officials in the Department.
Recognition for the work of Myrtle Taylor Lewis as a library leader was given at a special reception in her honour in 1955. She was truly one of the giants in developing school library services for the province, and public access for individuals, who needed assistance by mail or drop-in connections. Scott Bateman, Deputy Minister (1954–68) spoke glowingly of her contributions.
Frances Meilke (1955–1961), the second librarian, continued many of the programs already established. The selection of materials for the small school grant took considerably more time, and the quality of resources improved as publishers provided more sample copies. A significant increase in the number of individual reference questions was reported, and more requests from rural schools were filled if possible. Support was also provided to personnel working in secondary schools. During this time, the library was moved to the second floor of the Robert Fletcher Building. Now it was closer to the administrative and curriculum staff who used it more, and who could recommend familiar materials to their co-workers and field workers.
Margaret Baldock (1961–1970), the third librarian, was a graduate of the University of British Columbia School of Library and Archival Science. She brought new ideas to the library program. She recognized the need for outreach to the community through exhibits for workshops, support to program officers who travelled distances to do presentations, and discussion with Inspectors to help respond to local needs. The book collection was moved to Room 206, 1181 Portage Avenue in 1964. It grew significantly during this time, and some small format items began to appear with more regularity. Ms Baldock did many presentations for teachers-in-training and for the summer professional programs that were offered in the “Old Ford Plant” building. She was very active in both the MLA and MASL, and provided liaison to both organizations. [Ms. Baldock left the service to become the Education Librarian at the University of Saskatchewan, and later an administrator in the University of Saskatchewan libraries.]
Mary Mustard, from the University of Toronto, presented a series of workshops in collaboration with Ministry of Education, MLA, MASL and University of Manitoba leaders. Library advocates in the province appreciated that it was difficult for individual libraries to consistently train workers to meet their clerical and technical needs. Administration at Manitoba Institute of Technology, our MIT (not the Massachusetts one) was encouraged by library leaders to initiate this program as an alternative career ladder in all types of libraries.
Formal education for library technicians in Canadian education institutions was started in 1962 byGertrude Perrin* at the MIT in Winnipeg, with sixteen students in the first graduating class in a one-year program. This program has continued at Red River College, and is now offered as a two-year program - Library & Information Technology Program, and a Distance Education program — the Library Training Program (started in 1989) at the Princess Street campus. The Department library personnel were active on the Advisory Committee for this program.
About this time (1963), another giant Harry E. Newsom* became the Supervisor of School Library Services in The Winnipeg School Division No.1. In collaboration with Vic Dotten*, President of the MB Home & School and Parent Teacher Federation, they started the movement for organized elementary school libraries, with and trained teacher-librarians and good collections. The idea spread quickly across the urban divisions. Support from the Ministry Library was greatly appreciated. Training programs at the University of Manitoba were recognized. Agnes L. “Nan” Florence* (1964–78) and Gerald Brown (1965–92) succeeded Harry Newsom to evolve the WSD elementary school programs, and to upgrade the secondary library services. A dynamic consultative team, including Jean Baptist (1972–1991) provided leadership both locally and nationally. Programs in WSD have been continued by Gloria Hersak (1992–2006), Kevin Mowat (2006 — ) and Laura Cowie (2006 - ). Teaching courses at U of M evening and summer sessions were important vehicles for establishing the new philosophy of school librarianship in the province.
Grace d’Arcy* was appointed Supervisor of School Libraries (1967–74), and became the outreach arm for the Education Library to influence educators across the province on the need for quality school library programs. She was a tireless worker, strong advocate, spokesperson, recruiter, and prominent member of the professional associations. She understood that “community involvement” was a significant part of school library services outreach. She work closely with the librarians and staff at 1181 Portage Avenue. Mrs d’Arcy worked with the Ministry to establish scholarships and bursaries for training in school librarianship, which were very successful. Several candidates went to other provinces for advanced training. Grace certainly qualifies as a giant in school library development in Manitoba.
Dr Geoff Chapman (1968–73) was appointed as the first full-time instructor in the Faculty of Education U o M, to provide courses for the equivalent of a one-year training program in school librarianship at the Bachelor or Master’s levels to qualify teachers to work in MB schools. These programs were very successful and popular. Many summer programs and evening classes were filled. Dr Dave Jenkinson (1973–2009) continued, expanded and enriched these offerings. At the same time Dr Denis Hlynka (1968 - ) and Dr Jim Welsh* (1973–2008) provided parallel options in Audio Visual and Media Education. Many staff members from the School Library team from the Department assisted or taught in these programs. Tours of the Robert Fletcher facility were regularly arranged to have these students experience the resources available at 1181 Portage Avenue.
The philosophy of school library and information services, as advocated by the Ministry under Bateman, Dalton, Lorimer, Duhamel, was evolving quickly across the urban divisions. During the years 1969–71, theManitoba Association of Resource Consultants was comprised of some of the following leaders who were particularly active with the Department in shaping the programs and enunciating needs from the field. They were:
M. Farrough & A. Brown* & Wayne Warren , St. James-Assiniboia SD,
B. Lefteruk* & M. Stimson, Assiniboine South SD,
H. Allen*, St. Boniface SD, F. Lechner, Fort Garry SD,
P. Heintsch, St. Vital SD, N. Guilbert, River East SD,
D. Davies, Seven Oaks SD, M.A. Piper* & T. MacLaughlan, Transcona SD,
A. Waygood*, Seine River SD, E. M. Ingalls* & G. Hodges, Mystery Lake SD,
M. Hume, Brandon SD, Sr. Odille St. Pierre, Lakeshore SD.
These professionals worked closely with the School Library Services to advance the programs, especially related to technological change and district resource centre services. Over the years, some school divisions have changed their consultative staffing to meet local needs. The Department staff monitored the changes and encouraged the new staff to work closely with them. Those were the Golden Years. Administrators and staff in schools had a clear philosophical framework emphasizing the critical importance of school library programs for youth.
MARC combined with MASL to form Manitoba School Library Audio Visual Association (MSLAVA) (1971–93). The organization had a very active membership, and was involved in many aspects of policy development, committee work on Ministry projects and publications, recruitment, training programs, and workshops. The annual MSLAVA conferences gave visibility to Department leaders across several curriculum areas, to focus the directions in which the whole range of services was moving. In 1993, another name change from MSLAVA toManitoba School Library Association (MSLA) (1993 — ) The documentation for this association has been well recorded in the archives and indexing provided by Gerald Brown. These documents are housed at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, with indexes in various education libraries in the province. Current president (2016–17) is JoAnne Gibson, Fort Richmond Collegiate.
Librarians Marietta Portigal (1970–73), Pat Bozyk (1973–75) and Ganga Dakshinamurti (1975–76) were strong leaders at the Department for school library programs, for building expanding collections, and for doing workshops with teachers on how to access resources, and developing criteria for selecting them for various grades and subjects. They were also active promoters for the changing media formats that were becoming more common. They modelled professionalism in their involvement with the Associations and with the public library systems.
E.D.A.M. (Educational Distributors Association of Manitoba) has played a significant support service to Manitoba Education, both in the Library and the Curriculum Branch, by making available examination copies of textbooks, reading materials, reference materials, and software. These representatives are articulate about who is writing, who is being recommended, and who can be made available to celebrate reading events across the province. In addition, they have provided tremendous support at exhibits, workshops and conferences over the years. Some of the old-timer names that nudge my memory include:
Ken McKenzie, Copp Clark; Jack McClelland from McCLelland & Stewart;
Marvin Melnyck from Cenco Eye Gate (filmstrips & kits);
Ron Bennet from Encyclopedia Britannica (books, film & filmstrips);
David Weiss from Society for Visual Education (SVE);
Betty Sayer from Burns & MacEachern; John Robertson from Gage;
Jim Searle from MacLean-Hunter Books Services;
Ephram Bergman from Scholastic Book Services;
Ron Wescott from Nelson Pub.; Shirley Lewis from Shirley Lewis Books
and the list goes on… The Association of Manitoba Book Publishers is the current manifestation for this quality service.
In 1974 The Instructional Media Service (IMS) was formed. The name change was intended to better visualize the philosophy of the change in library services in schools. The service has had other designations over the years, including Instructional Resources Unit (IRU), and more recently Manitoba Education Resources Library
Dr John Tooth (1976–2012) took over responsibility for the library, as the seventh librarian. Gradually other related programs such as School Film Services, Audio Visual and Video distribution, and alternative form materials were transferred under his direction. Over the years, he held a variety of positions, with a variety of titles. All the while, he was focused on providing the best possible access for teachers across the province. He aimed to provide resources to the greatest number of children possible. He understood the need for a wide variety and media formats. John had a particular interest in sharing information regarding government documents about which teachers might not be aware. He also became the resident expert on all matters related to copyright.
In March 1977, the Library was moved to the main floor location at 1181 Portage Avenue, offering significantly more space for the expanding programs and services.
In 1980, School Film Services was integrated into the library program to provide greater continuity and consistency in service, and easier communication for the teachers and school staff for one-call-service. In 1984, Library Net, and later Media Net for media booking services by phone, were implemented. Several other developments in this area have evolved to provide better access and better service both over the website, by phone or in person at the Reference Desk.
The need for consultative assistance and leadership across the province meant the addition of several staff members. Among them were:
Mike Angel (1973–77) Supervisor, with assistance from Judy Dilk, Virginia Davis*, and Bob Piper.
Pat Blackburn (1979–85) became the Supervisor.
Barbara Kelly (1982–87) was the Media Consultant.
Later Supervisors and Consultants included:
Idella Setter* (1983–84); Susan Traill (1984–87);
Judy Dueck (1987–88); Gloria Hersak (1988–92);
Barbara Poustie (1992–95)
These individuals provided invaluable service to the field. They connected the library to the teachers, principals and superintendents. They interpreted the transition of libraries from warehouses to teaching-learning centres to learning commons, where teachers worked in Cooperative Planning and Teaching (CPT) Programs, initiated Independent Learning Skills (ILS) continuum & Problem-Solving programs across the curriculum, nurtured Literary and Cultural Appreciation (LCA) programs, and facilitated change in the use of technology as another teaching tool. In addition, they produced newsletters, bulletins, and a wide array of publications to support the curriculum, and to guide teachers. They frequently represented the Department at national conferences and workshops.
“Service to others is the rent we pay for our room here on earth’.
–Muhammad Ali (1942–2016)
Parallel services for French Language and Library Programs were initiated in 1977 at Direction des resources educatives francaises (Library & Material Production Branch) DREF, located at 200 avenue de la Cathedrale, Saint Boniface, as part of the College St. Boniface (now USB). Over the years, staff has been under the direction of:
Sister Marie Melancon* 1977, Jeannette Bourgouin 1978,
Arsene Huberdeau 1982, Doris Lemoine 1994,
Hugette Dandeneau 2000, Lynette Chartier (2009 — )
Consultative assistance is provided to both Immersion and Dual Track schools, with collection development assistance, program activities, conferences and workshops, and publications. They have always been very responsive to school and divisional needs. Heather Brydon is the recently appointed librarian at DREF.
In 1982 Joan McLaren* was appointed Co-ordinator of the Instructional Media Services Unit. Her role was to integrate the Library Program, School Film Services, School Broadcast & Production Services, Professional Development, Correspondence Branch, and Special Material Services (now called Alternative Formats). SMS contains materials such as audio-tape textbooks, Large Print textbooks, Braille textbooks, and computer software programs.
In 1984, Multicultural Educational Resource Centre (MERC) services were created, and added to the Library portfolio. This program examined the diversity of materials that were needed to respond to immigrant populations, and to encourage publications appropriate for English as an Alternative Language programs. Yolande Hogaveen was the first librarian in this MERC project. An Advisory Committee involving other related libraries and community citizens was created. The materials have now been integrated into the regular library services.
Reading is a key to learning. Inspiring young people to enjoy the art and act of reading is a keystone of the school library and information services program. To encourage as many teachers to become activists with their teacher-librarians and library support staff, the Department of Education, in collaboration with MSLAVA, Winnipeg Public Library, and Provincial Library Services organized a series of outstanding conferences: Canadian Images Canadiene (1986) (1990) (1994) and (1998). These events drew attendance from all across the province, including authors, illustrators, poets, and performance artists from across Canada. The personal and financial support from the Ministry was deeply appreciated in these conferences. The leadership from the IMS team was invaluable.
In 1997, the new Internet-based On-line Catalogue was launched in both French and English, including data on books, periodical holdings, videos, film CDs, and kits. It was noted at that time that the IRU collection was about 150,000 items, and the DREF collection held approximately 60,000 items.
Leslie Wylie (2012–2013) succeeded Dr. Tooth when he retired. During and since her time, there has been a significant upgrade in the facilities, and a serious weeding of the collection, with a particular view to providing materials in digital format where possible.
The Archives for Education in Manitoba is accessible, and is a rich storehouse of information about how philosophies and practices have changed in education in Manitoba. Thanks to the staff who have been so very helpful in compiling this data.
The Cataloguing and Processing Unit works tirelessly behind the scene. They provide the access to the tools, so the rest of us can focus on working with the learners and the policy makers. Assistance from this team has been helpful in preparing Cataloguing Guides for Library Processing; for Micro-computer Software records, and more recently for RDA format changes. Thanks for your careful and patient work with the records so that the automated systems work consistently. With approximately 10,000 active patrons, mainly teachers, teachers-in-training and Departmental staff, this library unit is an important component in addressing equity in the teaching / learning process.
I hope you have found this review to be a helpful perspective on how your tax dollars have been, and are being spent, to help your children become good learners, excited readers, creative respondents, and responsible citizens.
Gustav Mahler reminds us that Tradition is, not to preserve the ashes, but to pass on the fire. And so to you we toss the torch ….
Looking to the future, teachers and administrators count on having a quality and dynamic leadership team here in School Programs Division and the Education Resources Branch.