Waterloo Library - Elmira Branch

65 Arthur Street South
519-669-5477

In April 1886, several men from Elmira and the surrounding area gathered in Karl Klinck's Hall, which was located at the rear of a Church Street West building. They were there to discuss forming an organization which would have both social and educational benefits for the area. The men represented a variety of occupations - farmers, a wagon maker, a furniture dealer, a hardwareman, a grocer, a watchmaker, and a newspaperman. They pooled their resources, which consisted of eight books and $36. This was the beginning of a library called the Germania Society, with a membership of 20. From this modest beginning grew the facility which serves the community today. Membership in the Society cost $2 per year. This was reduced to $1 in October 1888. Meetings were held weekly on Friday evenings from January to early May, and from mid-October to mid-December. The subscription fees paid for the rental of the hall which was $18 per year. The fees also paid for furnishings, books and subscriptions to newspapers and magazines in both English and German.

There is evidence that another similar organization, The Elmira Literary Society, existed around this time. No details about its membership or purpose have been found.

On January 24, 1888, a meeting was held to organize a Mechanics' Institute in Elmira. Mechanics' Institutes provided lending libraries, reading rooms, lectures and classes to their members. They were the forerunners of public libraries in Ontario. George Klinck, President of the Germania Society, offered the Society's library (valued at $66) to the Institute, and the use of their hall and stove. The conditions of the transfer included two years free membership in the Mechanics' Institute for Germania Society members. The Mechanics' Institute was to pay $10 per year in rent, and furnish the coal oil to heat the hall. The Germania Society reserved the hall on Friday evenings for their use.

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