As stated in the June 25, 1991 Bentley Bugle, May Johnson writes: "In 1949, Bentley's first Library Board was chosen from members of the Home and School Association. Don Carlyle Sr. was elected Chairman, with other Board Members being Edwin Reed, Nellie Craig, Kathleen Smith and Rea Peterson. The first Library was in a small room in Bentley School. As there was not such a thing as grants in those days, groups and the general public were asked to donate books from their own collections. The response was very successful and approximately 200 books were collected. These books were sorted and catalogued by volunteers. Mrs. Beulah Dickau was the first Librarian. She worked three days a week for fifty cents a day. The regional Library started in the County about 1959 and Rea Peterson was Bentley's Representative on this Board." May goes on to write, "The Bentley School burned down in 1972 and all records and books were lost. It is with thanks to Rea Peterson that the earlier history is known."
In May 1977, the new Bentley Library opened, and was located in the Bentley Village Office on Main Street. Lorraine Stevenson, the Village Secretary, was also the Librarian and continued through until 1980 with Mary Wilton assisting her from 1978 on. Grants were received from the Village of Bentley, County of Lacombe and Parkland Regional Library to assist in increasing the book collection.
In May of 1980, the Bentley Municipal Library was formed. The location remained the same with Mary Wilton taking over the Librarian's duties which she continued to perform until January of 1989. During this time, Pearl Boettger and Phyllis Wright acted as Assistant Librarians. As a Municipal Library, the Board became eligible for an annual operating grant from the Library Services Branch of Alberta Cultural and Multiculturalism. This, along with grants from the Village and Parkland Regional Library, the Bentley Municipal Library continued to grow and improve its resources. In addition to this, local organizations, specifically the Royal Purple (1980), Bentley Kinsmen (1981) and Bentley Lions (1981) made donations.
When the Village Office moved to its new complex in 1981, the Library accompanied it and continued to operate from the Village Office. However, the Village had grown to the extent that it required the space occupied by the Library and the Library was in need of more space for its continually increasing collection. In 1991, the Village Council and the Library Board relocated the Library to the former Bentley Christian Centre Annex and with generous donations of money, supplies and labor from the community, area residents and organizations, renovations were completed. The official opening of the Library's new facility took place on June 16, 1991.
Since 1991 the library has continued to change and grow. Through the years the library has hosted a variety of programs for the public and acquired new equipment and technology. In 2008, the library staff, board and volunteers spent numerous hours painting and re-arranging furniture to give the library an updated look. The future for the Bentley Library looks bright! The Bentley Municipal Library is truly the "Hub of the Community."
In December of 2011 the library was anticipating renovations to start in January of 2012. But the renovations were going to be more extensive than originally thought and Parkland Regional Library advised that the collection could not be in the building during that time, that was on December 15th! It made for a busy Christmas season with the last day open being December 17th. With the help of some local teenagers and staff we managed to pack up the entire library in time for our December 30th move to 4929-51 Ave. The Bentley Museum. The Bentley Museum Society generously offered their space for storage of the entire collection, furniture, shelves, etc. As well as supplying space in the museum itself to operate a depot for patrons who request items online to pick up and return items. The depot was open on Tuesdays 10-2, Wednesdays 12:30-5:30 and Thursdays 3-6. Patrons were contacted as usual when the items they had requested were in. Lots of hard work was done over the next 3 months by Mike Mc Bride the contractor. The library staff came in to paint the beautiful colors chosen by Matt Toonders of “The Paint Stop” from Sylvan Lake. Contents were moved back to the library on April 2, 2012. The library had a Grand Reopening on May 24, 2012 with local members of parliament, other dignitaries, board members and public in attendance. With the much needed upgrades the library is a much more modern, welcoming, useable space with areas that are multifunctional.
In 2013 the library participated in Rodeo Saturdays by offering Bentley library’s Kid’s Kraft Korner in our parking lot. Face painting, games, squirt gun practise and more! In 2013/2014 E reading became very popular and card holders dropped by 124 patrons!
In 2014 the Library Board an Library Society partnered on the fundraiser. The Boom Chucka Boys entertained, and a great time was had by all! Nine ATCO volunteers came and repainted the back yard fence, picnic table, and the wooden pieces on the front of the library giving us a colorful new face! The Library Kids Kraft Korner also added a very popular photo booth to the fun things to do during Rodeo Saturday!
In 2015 to coincide with the Bentley Centennial, the library gifted patrons with free cards for anyone who had never had one before, as well as offering a free renewal of existing patron cards!
In 2016 the Bentley Library Board approved free cards and renewals for Bentley and area patrons! Lots of fun was had during rodeo with the photo booth which has become an annual feature of our Kids Kraft Korner!
In 2017 the library offers Movie Nights twice a month, a newly formed Teen Night once a month and Summer Reading Program every summer! The library has also seen an increase in new patrons with our cardholder numbers climbing from 606 in 2012 to 819 at the end of 2016!
Bentley Library Board and staff 2009 - 2017