Friday, July 4, 2014

252. Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada

After getting lost in Regina, where my GPS took me to a decidedly un-library corner of town, I tried to set up the GPS for Moose Jaw. Interesting: Garmin doesn't seem to know that Moose Jaw exists! Canada, OK. Saskatchewan, no problem. Moose Jaw? "No match found." But Winkler to Regina was a looong drive, and I really wanted a library to visit, so I got off Route 1 at Moose Jaw and asked for help. Not everyone knows where their local library is, and not everyone can give decent directions (anywhere, not just in Moose Jaw), but the McDonald's manager was good on both counts; his directions were clear enough that I was even able to work around a street festival in the middle of town. And the library was worth the effort. [And someday I should make a trip back here, and plan to spend at least a day in Moose Jaw. There is so much more here than the library!]

I now know that Carnegie funded libraries in Canada, not just the USA. This handsome library with its large addition is snuggled into a fascinating park and shares space with a museum. I entered through the Carnegie building; on the right is a large room with a fireplace and some furniture that looks original; this is designated as a quiet study space. To the left of the lobby a similar space, also with a fireplace, is being used for support services.

The children's area is completely separate from the rest of the library. There are two doors from the lobby, one into each area. I entered the kids area first, and noticed a glass wall that looks down into the lower level of the Carnegie building. The book and media collection is extensive, with many graphic novels, hard-cover comics, recorded books, DVDs, lots of book-and-media kits, and of course a large collection of just plain books. A long window wall with five study tables overlooks the park; when I was there, a girl perhaps 10 or 11 years old was totally engrossed in a book at one of these tables. I wish I knew what had her so captivated!

It's not necessary to return to the lobby to get to the adult side of the library, as there is a doorway near the picture books. Some of the things I noticed: Large colorful signs suspended from the ceiling, identifying parts of the space; a clipping file, something that used to be in every library but seems to be quite rare now; a poster about the on-line Encyclopedia Britannica, pointing out that there are two sites, one for kids and one for adults; another big window wall, with more views of the park, with a "living room" space for browsers; lots of study carrels; and more.

All paperback fiction is "shelved" on large wire spinners, about 20 of them! Near the large paper-based reference collection three large tables are placed end to end, providing plenty of space for researchers to spread out. Eight public computers are nearby.

A feature I noticed as I was leaving was a set of shelves for "recent returns," labeled by category. It appears that books are put here, then moved to carts when someone is available to shelve them. I imagine that this cuts down on the number of carts needed, and certainly keeps carts from cluttering the space. And of course, patrons often like to browse what has been returned recently!

I chatted with a couple of staff before I left, and learned that my hunch about this being a Carnegie library was correct. I bought a library tote bag and I learned that Regina is pronounced to rhyme with "that other word." The young man working at the desk told me that there is a plaque outside that I must see. I'm sorry, I couldn't find it. I really looked. I even asked a passing grandma, and she didn't know. And I was simply too tired and hot to come back in and ask.

For more about this library, go to or Hey, go to both--they are loaded with pictures and information!

7/4/2014, car



  1. Dear Ellen
    Moose Jaw Public library is not a Carnegie library.If you received a pamplet of our library, it explains why. Glad you enjoyed your visit at our great library!

    1. Oops, I goofed on that one. The library looks so Carnegie... I did get the booklet, and I confess that it is still in my "library collecting bag" along with everything else I've collected on this trip. I hope Mr. Carnegie learned what the people of Moose Jaw did after he turned them down!

  2. Hi Ellen, im the young man from the moose jaw library. sorry i didnt point you to exactly were the plaque is. it explains how carnegie refused our request, that our community was not viable enough. so instead the people of moose jaw went out and raised double what they asked for from mr. carnegie. its kind of a source of pride, at least in my eyes. it speaks to the can do attitude of the orginal spirit of moose jaw and how the people felt the library sould be a center piece of the community. but i am glad you enjoyed your visit and i like the your idea of travellingand blogging on librarys they still are and in my opinion always should be a vital part of a community.

  3. That is a terrific story, "young man." I wish I had found the plaque. Moose Jaw folks certainly have a lot to be proud of. If/when I get out your way again, I will take time both to find the plaque, and to explore the intriguing park behind the library.


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Sorry about the "verification" step; I added it after a rash of spammish comments.