Library services for Fort William began in 1885 when Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) employees opened a bath, along with a smoking and literary room, with a library attached in the Round House at West Fort William. Fees were $1.25 per year for CPR employees; non-employees were required to pay $1.25 for use of the tub.
With the assistance of a $50,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation, the Fort William Library moved to its new location at 216 South Brodie Street in 1912, with Mary J. L. Black as the librarian (who served from 1909–1937). The Fort William Library saw its first major change when an addition was added to the south side of the building in 1955, increasing the floor area from 14,000 square feet (1,300 m2) to 23,150 square feet (2,151 m2). In 1966 the front entrance was rebuilt.
The present Thunder Bay Public Library officially came into being in 1970, after the amalgamation of the Port Arthur and Fort William branches. The inaugural meeting of the Library Board was held in January, 1970; the Chairman opened the meeting by outlining the problems facing the Board in integrating the operations of the two branches.
In 1980 the Brodie Street Library received an extensive renovation, and in 1981, its collection was rearranged with the adult fiction materials and moved to the new branch in the Victoriaville Mall. The branch, which officially opened on June 25, 1981, housed fiction, a small collection of children's materials, and some magazines as well as the two local papers.
On February 27, 1982, the city's Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC.) designated the Brodie Street Library as a historically significant building.
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