The librarians at the East Ferris Public Library believe in preserving the community’s story, and to help with that, they have a Local History policy that helps guide them as they collect materials about East Ferris. The policy is not new, but every once and a while library staff like to remind residents of their collection, and how they can contribute to the archive of local lore.
Keep in mind there is no museum in East Ferris, so the library’s local collection helps preserve the area’s history. Also keep in mind that what it preserves is mostly ephemera—papers, flyers, posters, photos, and other similar items. Occasionally, staff will accept a small object like a button commemorating Carnival ’84, but overall, do not accept larger items. They simply don’t have the room.
So, what is included in the collection, and what are staff looking for? Works from local authors are always welcome, even if the subject matter is not directly pertaining to the area. Historical atlases and maps of the region would be welcome, as would family histories from residents, old municipal or cemetery records, and old photographs, preferably labelled or that have some context about the subjects of the pictures.
The library will also scan photographs if the owner is not comfortable giving away an heirloom but would still like to contribute to the local history collection. Those digitized photos are kept on an external hard drive in the library and can be viewed upon request. No material from the collection is circulated, it must be enjoyed by patrons within the building.
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As for photos, Jennifer Laporte, the library’s CEO, mentioned that the library also seeks contemporary photos from significant community events, because after all, those will become historic documents as time marches on. If you have some memorable photos from a Canada Day celebration or from the last Trade Show, Laporte would like to have a look and perhaps add them to the archive.
Same goes for buildings within the area, as capturing construction projects or the interior of seldom seen buildings is always a treat for future residents curious about how East Ferris looked back in the good old days of 2022. Laporte is looking to the future, to that time when today is the present’s ancient history.
Pamphlets from local activities are also accepted in the collection, so if you have that invitation from the church social back in 1964, the library will enjoy seeing that. Concert posters, programmes from school or community plays, that material so often lost will make a fine addition to the collection, offering a unique view of how East Ferris was spending some time in years past.
Librarians are also hoping to increase materials pertaining to local Indigenous people, to ensure a more complete story of the area is documented for interested patrons.
Laporte emphasized that some of the most impressive pieces of the collection have come from families who have created a scrap book or compiled short stories of family members outlining life in East Ferris. Some people have submitted old family recipes. These documents were not professionally printed or published, and these homegrown accounts offer valuable insights into the community.
“It’s important to get that story, to preserve local history,” Laporte said, “and make it available and catalogued so people can find it easily. Our goal is to archive our story."
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca