Phoebe Bunnell


Honorary Life Membership
In Recognition of

Phoebe Bunnell

Prior to taking her grade three class to the local library Phoebe Bunnell asked if they knew what to call a person who helps you to find books there. One little fellow called out, "I know, it's a bookie!" Well why not? Words are taking on new meanings all the time. We now have a new definition for the term. "A "bookie" is a person who loves books and wants to provide them for others". Phoebe Bunnell is a "bookie". She has loved books ever since she was in grade three herself and she has worked for libraries for many years.

She became a member of the Swift Current Public Library Board in 1964 and remained on the board until 1974, serving as chairman for part of that time - 1966-1969. In 1968 the government was threatening to cut library grants. An emergency meeting of trustees was called in Regina to see what could be done to prevent a cut. A brief was drawn up which the group presented to Mr. Ross Thatcher and his Cabinet ministers. The group was very persuasive and the result was not a cut, but a modest increase for libraries. At that time the Saskatchewan Library Trustees Association formed its own organization with its officers and meetings separate from the Saskatchewan Library Association. Phoebe was its first secretary-treasurer and served for four years during which time the membership grew and the organization strengthened. I don't suppose those of us who were not involved at the time have an idea of the amount of work that was done -- the number of letters and telephone calls urging membership, the number of receipts as the trustees responded, the number of frustrations that any new organization endures, and of course eventually the satisfactions.

Phoebe worked diligently also on the pro-tem committee which acted to establish the Chinook Regional Library. Many visits were made to groups in Swift Current and district, and Phoebe talked loud and clear about the advantages of a Regional Library system. Radio and television appearances were also made. She says that she enjoyed all of these appearances in and out of the city, which surely indicates how much of a "bookie" she really is. Her efforts in this project, along with the hard work of many others, was successful and the Region was established in 1971.

Phoebe also served two terms on the Library Development Board, was the representative from Saskatchewan to the Canadian Library Association for a year, contributed to briefs submitted by the Saskatchewan Library Trustees Association to the government, and helped with Canadian Library Association programs by chairing panels and presenting papers on various phases of library.

Locally she was a dynamo but there was one time when we thought that she had talked too much. Swift Current needed a new library and of course there was a problem in financing a new building. The city fathers, though sympathetic, shook their heads doubtfully until Phoebe came up with the idea that the board members could help raise some of the necessary funds, and she worked out a plan of action. Horrors, we thought, we'll never do it! But the need was great and so we all pitched in and were successful in raising a sum which impressed Council. They were great in their praise and we got the new building of which we are very proud. Phoebe kept the records for us and later presented the library with a book outlining the work that had been done, complete with photos taken by her husband.

Phoebe is no longer on the local board. She has gone into full time teaching of her grade three class, but we still see a lot of her. She makes frequent use of the library herself and encourages her little pupils to do the same.

We in Swift Current are very proud, as I'm sure all Saskatchewan trustees are, that Phoebe won the Canadian Library Association Merit Award for 1978 presented in Edmonton at the last annual meeting of that body. And we are very pleased that she is now receiving an honorary life membership in our Saskatchewan Library Trustees Association. She is very deserving of these honors and with this one we know that Phoebe Bunnell's association with libraries and trustees will continue for a long, long time.

Prepared and read by Mrs. Leola Moore, 1978