History

The Women’s Institute of Benito was active in forming a library in Benito. With the results of a petition and a presentation made to the Village Council, a library vote was held in the fall of 1964. The vote was carried in favor of Benito and also of Swan River to establish a regional library within the two communities. An organizational meeting was held in Swan River town office on March 22, 1965. Present at this meeting were representatives of the both communities, plus Miss M. Marley, provincial librarian and her assistant, Miss J. Gauer. Officers elected were:
Town of Swan River
Mr. Ken Campbell, Chairperson
Dr. L Matthews, Vice-Chairperson
Village of Benito
Mr. Les Hall
Mrs. F. Coe, Librarian

Advertisements for a trained librarian brought no results, so Mrs. Florence Johnston of Swan River took the summer library course at the University of Manitoba.
Staff was:
Florence Johnston, Librarian
Daisy Campbell, Typist
Mrs. Joan Macooh, Librarian Benito Branch

On December 1, 1965, the Benito Branch of the North-West Regional Library opened its doors to the public on the north side of the Sas building with Mrs. Joan Macooh hired as the first librarian. Mrs. Mabel Cooke was hired as librarian substitute and took charge of the Children’s Story Hour every Saturday afternoon from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Library Hours
Wednesday 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday 2:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Friday 2:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday 2:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

In the first month of service the Library loaned out 359 books and registered members was listed at 88. Mrs. Macooh resigned and on January 4, 1966, Mrs. Vivian Hogg was hired as the librarian.
Picture of Mrs. Hogg with student

Mrs. HoggOn February 26, 1966 at 2:00 p.m. the official opening took place with Mr. John Khadekin (principal of Benito Collegiate) as emcee. Mr. Murray Greg, Deputy Mayor spoke on behalf of the Village of Benito Council with speeches by Mr. George Noble of the Extension Library, University of Manitoba; Mr. Craub, Library Trustee; Miss Marley, Provincial Librarian (representing Mr. Bilton MLA); and Hon. Stewart MacLean, Attorney General and Minister of Libraries. Mr. MacLean called upon Mr. Murray Greig and Mrs. Coe to perform the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Summer Library Hours as
of June 1, 1966

Tuesday 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

In September 1966, it was brought to Mrs. W. Finlay’s (W.I. District President) attention that if ratepayers of the Rural Municipality of Swan River wanted to belong to or rather be a supporting municipality in respect of the North-West Regional Library, they should get a petition and present it to their council. Mrs. Francis Coe was very active in getting petitions circulated for obtaining names of electors of this district. On September 14, 1966 a petition was sent to the Rural Council requesting the council to draw up a bylaw. A bylaw was drawn up and a vote was held on October 26, 1966. The vote was carried even though a small percentage of total electors turned out to vote. As of December 1, 1966, residents of the Rural Municipality of Swan River became borrowers, as the same basis as the Village of Benito and the Town of Swan River.

School childrenIn January 1968, Mrs. V. Hogg resigned as the librarian for Benito. Mrs. Mabel Cooke accepted the position with Mrs. Joan Macooh as Assistant Librarian and Mrs. Emma Gillespie as the casual assistant (above information was taken from Mrs. V. Hogg’s transcripts of library history).

In 1980, it was decided that with the high readership per capita and the lack of adequate space that it would be more practical to construct a new building in Benito at the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue West. The grand opening was held on October 29, 1981, with Mrs. Cooke and her assistant Mrs. Evelyn Gade opening the new facility.

After 34 years of much dedicated service to the library and the community, Mrs. Mabel Cooke retired on June 30, 2000. Gloria Stesenko has accepted the Head Librarian position and Pat Lyons was hired as Assistant Librarian.

With the introduction of computers and other related technologies, the Library once again was faced with a lack of adequate space. A survey was sent out to the public with the results clearly displaying that additional space was needed in order to conduct new programs and services.

The Benito Library Committee was formed in August of 2003 to raise the funds needed to move and renovate an existing 4,000 square foot building within the Village of Benito. Under the leadership of Committee Chairperson and Board Member Lorraine Schneider, the Expansion Committee raised over $400,000.00. The new Library at 140 Main Street held a grand opening on September 24, 2007 with many dignitaries in attendance.

After 27 years of commitment to the Community and the North-West Regional Library, Librarian Gloria Stesenko retired on September 1, 2016.

Staff changed with Mrs. Sandra Yaknovich appointed as Librarian and Mrs. Michelle Barkman as Library Clerk.

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