Prior to 1890, Ingersoll had two libraries. One was a small rental library, the other, the Mechanics library. In 1890, the two merged. This resulted in a public library with a small charge. There were 5,000 books available for use. It was located first on King St. E. In 1899, it moved to the Royal Block on Thames St., where more room was available. Mrs. Court was the librarian for years. In 1909, the town council took advantage of a very generous offer for municipal libraries, made by an American millionaire, Andrew Carnegie. The council appointed the following gentlemen as the first Carnegie Library Committee: J. L. Patterson, chairman (occupation, lawyer and magistrate); William Briden, secretary; R. J. Robertson, town treasurer; Walter Mills, contractor; S. M. Fleet; J. G. Gibson, lawyer and to represent the council; Mayor George Sutherland. This committee submitted plans and conditions to Mr. Carnegie which were satisfactory to receive the grant. The committee selected a site east of the Merchant’s Bank on Charles Street, which was purchased from the bank. Mr. F. J. Ure was secured as surveyor and staked the site. In June 1909, the committee called for tenders for the building. The tender of James Coulter, Woodstock was accepted. Work started in the fall of the year and the building was completed and transferred to the committee on May 28, 1910. The town paid $1,000. for the site. The building when completed with heating plant, lighting, and shelving cost $9,000. The Merchant’s Bank made a verbal agreement with the committee not to erect a building between the bank and library. There was a free reading room, where current daily and weekly papers, monthly magazines and illustrated publications were on the tables or in the files. It was open from 2 p.m. till 6 p.m. and from 7 till 9:30 p.m. each weekday. The annual expenditure was about $800 and the privileges of the entire institution were available to any responsible citizen free of cost except five cents for the catalogue.
excerpt from Ingersoll: our heritage by Harry Whitwell