Story: Literary Tastes

Growing up in the North End, Esther (Dolgoy) Korchynski was a devoted user of St. John’s Library. This is the second of two fond memories she has of this library that she shared with us. You can also read the first one here.

“When I was young, the children’s library was in the basement at St. John’s, and the adult library was upstairs. Now personally, I thought that kids’ books were boring and I didn’t care for the children’s library much at all. So I made a decision that I would wait until I was twelve to join the library, since then I could use the upstairs library, even though I thought the librarian downstairs was very nice and hoped that she would be working upstairs by the time I was twelve.

“When the day finally came and I joined the library, I remember that I spent several hours looking around at all the books. I found it very confusing, and I didn’t think to ask a librarian for help in finding something I wanted to read. Very few of the books had dust jackets with summaries or descriptions on them, so it was difficult to make a decision.

“The book I finally selected was Orphan Paul by Maxim Gorky. It struck me as interesting because I had been taught at home to be concerned for the poor and downtrodden. I read it, and then read everything else in the library by Gorky, since I knew where they were on the shelves. This led me to reading other Russian writers, which even though I didn’t much care for them (they were too hard to read) definitely influenced my literary tastes. I became a bit of a book snob, taking pride in my selections and looking down on my sister’s preferences for mysteries by Agatha Christie!

“Even though I never did truly develop a taste for Dostoyevsky, St. John’s Library set me on a lifelong path of reading and a love of books.”

Story: Lost and Found

Growing up in the North End, Esther (Dolgoy) Korchynski was a devoted user of St. John’s Library. Even today, this landmark has a special place in her heart, and even driving by stirs memories from long ago. Here is the first of two recollections she shared with us.

“This incident was told to me, since I was too young to have a reliable memory of the entire sequence of events. I do have one visual memory of this day.

“When I was three or four years old, which would have been in 1936 or 1937, we lived on Manitoba Avenue near Salter. One day, I went missing from my home – I simply disappeared. It was late morning or early afternoon when it was noticed that I was gone, and when a quick look around the house and yard turned up nothing, my mother and other family members were very worried and enlisted the neighbours to help in the search. When my dad came home for lunch, he immediately joined in, using his truck to ferry willing volunteers around the neighbourhood. There were very few phones at that time, which made communication difficult.

“Hours passed, and I was nowhere to be found. My family was frantic, and their panic wasn’t eased for more than five hours, until police finally came to tell them that I had been found by a woman who had noticed me wandering on College Avenue. She became concerned, so had taken me into her home and had contacted the authorities.

“When my relieved and grateful family came to collect me, they found me sitting in a highchair, being fed a comforting supper of scrambled eggs. I don’t actually recall walking what must have been over half a mile all by myself, but I do clearly remember those scrambled eggs!

“When I was asked why I had gotten lost and where I was going, I told my family that I was going to the library! You see, my sister (who was 8 years older than me) had taken me there in the past, and I clearly wanted to go again. I made it more than halfway there, too!”

Read the second of Esther’s memories here.

Winnipeg’s Carnegie Libraries: a Century of Opening Minds

While the collection and programming may have changed, neighbourhood libraries such as Cornish and St. John’s have remained true to their original vision, providing vibrant hubs for learning and community activities. They deserve the continuing support of both the public and private sectors in order to maintain this role for the next century, and beyond.

Excerpt from article originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 16, 2014 A7. Read the full article.

Story: Growing up in the North End

Many thanks to John Hudak who now lives out of town, and sent the following note with his generous online donation.

I am pleased to donate to this fund. I grew up on Machray Avenue and went to Ralph Brown and St. John’s High School, and the library was one of the places I would love going to. I am proud to help out in this to keep it there for many years to come. Keep the place going, and I will make it down once the reno is completed. I just love that area of the city.

Donate now!

Story: Growing up at St. John’s

Natasha Stetski, Student, spoke at the  Campaign Launch event June 12, 2014.

I’ve lived most of my life at St. John’s. I grew up sheltered in there, walking in from a cold day to librarians that know me by name, imagining what it’s like on the balcony, huddled by the radiator in my favorite section of the library. Now that I’m older, I’ve taken the kids I babysit to the library and helped the next generation love books. Admittedly, it is hard to drag 4 kids and a stroller up the stairs, but that’s one of the reasons I’m so excited for the re-vamping of the library. Elevators and ease of accessibility will make the library an even more enjoyable place to be, for people of all ages and abilities.

The Summer Reading Program at St. John’s has also been a part of my childhood. Every summer, mum would sign us kids up. Not only was it an excuse to read, but the more we read, the more likely we were to get prizes!! I remember one summer, I won most or all of the prizes, including the Grand Prize, which was Goldeyes tickets, although I don’t particularly enjoy baseball!

All in all, the St. John’s library has been long fond in my memory, and although I haven’t been around for most of its 99 years, I hope to be around for a long while with it!

Send us your memories of St. John’s Library. We’d love to hear from you!

Recollections from St. John’s

Thank you to St. John’s Library Branch Head Harriet Minuk for the following recollections.

A few things that out when speaking of St. John’s – the convenience of the branch, friendly and helpful staff, as well as the variety of programming that has been offered.

Specific recollections include individuals who came as children and were directed to the downstairs area until they “graduated” to the teen section upstairs.  This was a really big deal as it signified something akin to a rite of passage.

Also, for several families, Saturdays meant a trip to the library.  The regularity of these trips was facilitated by the constant presence of the branch in the neighborhood – a stable force in lives that were often tumultuous.

Send your memories and stories to us! We’d like to hear them.

Centennial Renewal Campaign Launch Event – St. John’s

Rick Walker, Head of Library Services, acted as Master of Ceremonies for the events.

Rick Walker, Head of Library Services, acted as Master of Ceremonies for the events.Cene

Thank you to everyone who was a part of the launch of the Centennial Renewal Campaign at Cornish and St. John’s Libraries this week.


Greetings from Gord Mackintosh

Gord Mackintosh, MLA for St. Johns, was unable to attend the Centennial Renewal Campaign launch at St. John’s Library on June 12. He sent the following remarks:

I wish I could be there with you to celebrate the 99th anniversary of our beautiful library, and to kick-off the Library Foundation’s exciting Centennial Renewal Campaign.

I have a fondness for the St. John’s Library due to my involvement with the citizens’ coalition that fought to keep the branch open in 1993. We saved the library for future generations and are fortunate that it still serves our community.

When it opened its doors in 1915, it was the first branch of the growing Winnipeg Public Library system and served an expanding neighbourhood of new Canadians. Today, it is not only a place where people of all ages can find a good book; but it’s also the place for families to come for ‘Story Times’, and for area students to find a supportive after-school homework club.

The dark oak woodwork and antique reading tables are a reminder of a bygone era and the many generations the library has served, but the time has come for renewal.

I support the Winnipeg Library Foundation in their plans to renovate our beautiful old library and wish them the very best with their fundraising campaign.

Story: “It was 1949…”

Many thanks to Ken Goldstein for his memory of St. John’s Library.

“It was 1949.  I was seven years old.  And my library was the St. John’s Library on Salter Street.  I had been going there since I was four or five, usually with my mother, but now I was there on my own.  I even had my own library card.  And I wanted to take a book out of the library – The Adventures of Robin Hood.  But there was a problem.  I did not want to take out the abbreviated version from the children’s section; I wanted the full book from the adult section of the library.  And the librarian said “No”, it was against the rules.  I left, and returned with my mother, and, together, we persuaded the librarian that I could be trusted to take the adult version home.  So the St. John’s Library helped me learn three things:  First, to love books.  Second, to love libraries.  And third, to push back against bureaucratic rules that made no sense.  I’ve been doing all three ever since.”

We’d like to hear your story too! Please send it to us.