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History of the Federation

In 1931, the Public Library Commission (the precursor to today’s Libraries Branch) established an office in Prince George Office to initiate library service in north-central British Columbia. By 1936, efforts to see public library associations form in the larger centres – Quesnel, Prince George, Smithers and Vanderhoof – were successful. A co-operative plan of book exchanges between library associations became a reality in 1937 when the first exchange between Quesnel and Prince George took place.

The co-operative plan of book exchanges between the four associations worked out so well that other associations wished to join. By 1949, there were nine member libraries and the group was formally known as the North-Central Associated Libraries (NCAL). Libraries in the co-operative committed their own funds for the development of a book pool to be used by the whole group. The Public Library Commission also committed funds and acquired, processed and distributed the books to libraries.

Prince George withdrew from the NCAL in 1961 when it became a municipal public library. But other libraries joined over time and by 1995, member libraries were Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Fraser Lake, Hazelton, Houston, McBride, Mackenzie, Smithers, Stewart, Valemount and Vanderhoof. By that point, the North-Central Associated Libraries (NCAL) had become the North Central Libraries Association (NCLA).

In 1995, the NCLA received notification that the Prince George Office of the  Public Library Services Branch (the name for Libraries Branch at that time) would be closed. NCLA would be on its own. In 1997 Prince George Public Library was made an “associate member” of the NCLA. And there was another name change  – in 2000, the North Central Libraries Association became the North Central Library Association.

The NCLA continued to serve libraries in the north-central region of BC until it transitioned into the North Central Library Federation  (NCLF) in 2007. Burns Lake, Cariboo Regional District,  Fort St. James, Fraser Lake, McBride, Mackenzie, Prince George, Valemount and Vanderhoof were the signatories to the first NCLF Service Agreement. Hazelton, Houston, Smithers and Stewart became part of the North Coast, now the North West, Library Federation.