The first Maritime Library Association was founded April 17, 1918 at Acadia University. E.J. Lay, Librarian of the Amherst Public Library was elected President of the Association which had sixteen members. Unfortunately, interest in the new association waned after Mr. Lay died a few months later. Irregular efforts were made during the 1920’s to revitalize the Association.
In 1922, an attempt was made to organize an Association and once again Acadia University was the site of this effort. W.C. Milner, Archivist, Halifax Branch of the Public Archives of Canada, was elected President. Meetings were held at intervals over the next few years, but little was accomplished. An article written by Mary Ingraham (Chronicle, May 15, 1935) gives some insight into the activities of the 1922-1928 period:
At one time, we had an enrolment of 57 members, and though many of these were eminent people, an honour to our organization, fewer than 1/3 of the number were librarians or actively engaged in library work. The librarians of the Maritime Provinces being in the minority, they naturally lost interest in an Association founded in their interest, but manned by people with other aims in view. Much good work was done, attention to local history was aroused through essay competitions; books were distributed and a few community libraries founded. But as an Association for the coordinating of library interests throughout the Maritime Provinces, and for promoting intelligent cooperation and a spirit of mutual helpfulness among the librarians, the organization seemed doomed to failure.
After the 1928 annual meeting which was held, again, at Acadia University, no more conferences were held, no dues were collected, and the Maritime Library Association lapsed into a state of dormancy once more.
In 1934, while attending the American Library Association conference in Montreal, a group of fifteen Maritime librarians decided that it was time to try again at organizing an Association. Mrs. John Stanfield of Truro, N.S. was elected President and a constitution was written. Even though the original Maritime Library Association had not met in six year, and the founders of the new Association had been members of the original, there was some opposition from the President of the old body to the use of the original name and the extant funds. Thus the new group decided to use the name “Maritime Library Institute”, and proceeded to hold its first annual conference at Acadia University on May 30, 1935. At this time, the constitution was adopted, and the Association which was to become the Atlantic Provinces Library Association had its official birth.
In 1940, the name was changed back to “Maritime library Association” and the change to “Atlantic Provinces Library Association” (APLA) was made in 1957 when Newfoundland became a member. The objectives of the original Institute are listed in this manual and do not differ greatly from those which are the guidelines for the present Association. Over the years, in an attempt to fulfil these objectives, the Association has engaged in numerous activities. Annual meetings continue to provide a forum for discussion and learning, as well as the opportunity for the business meeting of the Association. APLA has taken an active role in promoting the establishment of libraries in the Atlantic provinces, in encouraging the recruitment of professional librarians, and in supporting the establishment of a library school at Dalhousie University. Various briefs have been presented to royal commissions investigating library related matters. As well, letters of concern have been addressed to those involved in decision making which affects libraries and librarians.