A Brief History of Lincoln Public Library

In 1852, the first library in what is now the Town of Lincoln was established in Louth Township. One year later, John B. Osborne started Clinton Township's first library in the upper level of the Township Hall in Beamsville. Osborne paid for the upper storey as a lodge room, and made available a small room at the top of the stairs that had space for 200 books. These were small, under-funded libraries, and were not well-used.

In 1886, Moses F. Rittenhouse started a library in the Rittenhouse School in Vineland Station. He stocked it with over 500 books, two sets of encyclopedias, 20 bound periodicals, and 12 magazine subscriptions. Upon his death in 1915, the trustees of the library received $20,000 to endow the library and Victoria Hall. Fifty years later, when the school and Victoria Hall were expropriated for the Queen Elizabeth Way interchange at Victoria Avenue, sufficient money was on hand from the Rittenhouse Trust to build a new library in conjunction with tennis courts on First Avenue in Vineland Station.

In 1887, a Mechanics' Institute was established in Beamsville to provide reading and self-improvement materials for the working man. The workers at the Gibson Quarry were some of its patrons. In 1915, Beamsville Village Council took responsibility for its funding and operation, and the Institute became a Public Library.

Beamsville's library moved several times over the years; locations included a room above Riggins' drug store, the Osborne Block, and the Stirling Block. It later moved back to the ground floor of the building where it started – the old Township Hall on Beam Street. In 1967, the libraries in Beamsville and Vineland Station joined to become the Clinton-Louth Union Public Library, which was renamed the Lincoln Public Library when the Town of Lincoln came into existence on January 1, 1970.

In 1973, following a community survey undertaken by the Chief Librarian at the time, Stan Skrzeszewski, a Jordan branch was established in the former Louth council chambers. In 1980-81 the Beamsville library underwent a renovation and expansion which doubled its size. In recognition of the ongoing support of the Fleming family, the building was named the Fleming Library. As the town of Lincoln grew, the tiny libraries in Vineland Station and Jordan could no longer meet users' needs, and in 1996 the new Moses F. Rittenhouse Branch was built on Victoria Avenue in Vineland.

On June 21, 2014, when the new Community Complex in Beamsville opened its doors, a new phase in the Beamsville library’s 162-year history began. The project began in 2011 when the Town committed to build a new community complex on the site of the Beamsville Fairgrounds to replace the old arena and library. This facility would be in the midst of a new housing development.

The 7500-square-foot library shares space with an NHL-size rink, a walking track and community meeting rooms. Retaining the Fleming name thanks to a generous donation from the Fleming family, the new library has more space, more computers, more shelving, a larger seating area and an enclosed study room for quiet study or meetings.

As part of the fundraising campaign, members of the public were able to purchase a shelf to commemorate family or friends, and those names can be seen on the ends of the shelves.

Sources: Rannie, William F. Lincoln: The story of an Ontario town. Beamsville, 1974.
Lincoln Public Library. Scrapbook. (unpublished).