We had just begun the Social Studies lesson on the Legislative Building in Fredericton when a knock on the door was heard and in walked the school inspector. After removing his hat and coat, he nodded for the teacher to continue.
When she completed teaching the lesson, the Inspector looked over his glasses, stared right at me and asked, “What room in the Legislative Building would you like to visit?”
It seemed the cat got my tongue, as I couldn’t think of an answer.
But today, if I were asked the question, I would not hesitate. I would just blurt out, “The Legislative Library!”
This library has had a long tradition of collecting books, pamphlets, and selected documents about New Brunswick or written by New Brunswickers and the collection totals more than 10,000 items, making it the largest of its kind in Canada.
They have been maintaining a New Brunswick History Checklist for many years, which is in essence, a subject bibliography of New Brunswick items, such as books, chapters, articles, concerning this province. At the Library there is an in-house database consolidating all editions of the Checklist. Genealogy is one of the subjects indexed.
An in-house biographical database of all the Members of the Legislative Assembly from 1784 until the present consisting of over 1000 biographical sketches is also available.
Approximately 200,000 government publications are on file, the Library being the official depository for New Brunswick documents as well as being a full depository for federal publications in both languages.
Nature lovers will enjoy the complete set of Birds of America by John James Audubon, one of history's best-known painters of bird life. The double elephant folio of 5 feet by 3 feet set of books was purchased in 1852. The four-volume set contains 435 plates of original sketches by Audubon. The plates depict in life-size 1065 figures of 489 species of American birds. They were engraved and hand coloured in aquatint by Robert Havell of London. There are only five publicly owned copies of the book in Canada.
The reference collection contains books designed for quick access to specific information. Examples of this type of material are dictionaries, encyclopedias, and yearbooks. Subject dictionaries, atlases, city and telephone directories are other aspects of this extensive and varied collection.
The Legislative Library has moved into the computer age holding many electronic information sources such as Academic Search Elite, which offers full text for 1,850 scholarly journals. Canadian Reference Select covers 400 international and 150 Canadian periodicals and 30 newspapers, as well as reference books and biographies. These databases are searchable by title, author, journal, and keyword and have a user-friendly interface. Drop into the Library to check out these databases.
By the way, the staff would greatly appreciate hearing of any new publications or pamphlets and would be pleased to accept family tree compilations. Donations are very welcome and tax receipts will be issued.
I suggest you pay a visit to the Legislative Library in Fredericton. It is open Monday to Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and if the Legislature is sitting in the evening, the Library is open until the House rises, usually at 10:00 p.m. Enter the front doors of the Legislative Building, and sign in with the commissionaire. Walk past the Assembly Chamber, toward the back of the building just beyond the circular staircase. Enter via two sets of iron doors into the chapel-like room that was built in 1882 where you will discover a treasure trove of New Brunswick history.
The website for the Legislative Library is http://www.gnb.ca/legis/leglibbib/index-e.asp