Placentia’s first public library dates back to 1944 when a "Reading Room" at the Star of the Sea Hall provided members with reading material. This led the way for the town’s first library situated in the "Auxiliary Room" where club meeting and ladies card games were previously held.In September of 1944 the Placentia Regional Library opened to serve a population of approximately 1500 with a book stock totaling 729. Circulation of materials for the first year was 3305. This library became part of the Newfoundland Library Services which was set up in 1942 and numbered 25 libraries across the province by 1974. Today there are 96.
The local bank manager and library volunteer Mr. Frank Channing was the library’s first chairperson. One of his duties was to appoint Mr. Patrick Sullivan as the first community librarian. In a very short time, Mr. Sullivan resigned and was replaced by Miss Mae O’Keefe who in turn resigned in 1945, being replaced by Mrs. Dorothy Myrick. Mrs. Myrick who held the position unti l she resigned in 1966 spent time visiting the various schools and deposit stations in Branch, Fox Harbour and Bar Haven.
In the Spring of 1967, Mrs. Gertie Sullivan was hired. Soon afterwards the library relocated to a small room in the Placentia Town Hall. In 1968 it became apparent that a new larger library was needed. The library board and other local volunteers, through fundraising, planning and a lot of hard work made the goal a reality. In 1969 the new library building, located in the town square was completed and ready for use. The official opening was held in the summer of 1970 with Mr. James Leonard as chairperson of the board.
The library flourished over the next 20 years with Mr. Sullivan as librarian. She was instrumental in developing a sizeable "Placentia History" reference collection. On her retirement in 1986, the position was filled by Mrs. Barbara Bailey who continued in the position until1993. After Mrs. Bailey’s resignation, Mrs. Doris Bowering who worked with the Provincial Public Library in St. John’s for many years, transferred to Placentia and remains the librarian at the Placentia Public Library to this day. (2011)
Over the years, the public library has undergone major changes. The close down of the Naval Facility at Argentia in 1994 provided the library with furniture, supplies and book stock and a need for larger quarters. The Placentia Lions came to the rescue by transferring their Youth Centre building to the Provincial Public Libraries. In addition to this, budget cuts brought the merging of the Freshwater and Placentia libraries and so the major task of incorporating three libraries into one began. The "new" public library houses a book stock of 30,000 plus, and serves communities from the Cape Shore to Long Harbour.
The changing role of the public libraries is emerging with advances in computer technology. Placentia Public Library was the first CAP (Community Access Program) site in Newfoundland. CAP is part of an initiative by Industry Canada to provide rural communities with public access to the Information Superhighway. The library has six terminals with high speed internet and offers patrons access to email and other internet services and training. The Placentia Public Library has evolved into a fine Community Resource Centre ready to fill the needs of Placentia and area. (From former Placentia Library Website)