The office of librarian in Brougham dates back to 1841. The third by-law passed by Pickering Township Council on 4 Jan, 1841 resolved that " a librarian be appointed in order to make the books given by Mrs. Small (Mr. Small was the sitting member of Parliament) available to the public. Mr. Andrew Thomson, Tavern Keeper was appointed to the post.
The Mechanics Institute was actually the first library in Brougham and was active prior to 1895. Mr. Bodell kept books in his shoe shop to be loaned to villagers and local farmers. These books were mostly classics and technical books. On March 4, 1922 a library board was formed and it moved that the members organize under the Public Libraries Act. The motion was carried and the Brougham Association Library was conceived. On April 30, 1922 Mrs. T.C. Brown was appointed librarian. The library collection was moved to her home and she was paid 5 dollars for rent, 5 dollars for her services and the township gave a grant of 40 dollars. Members were charged a fee of 25 cents. Mrs. Brown remained the librarian for 30 years and was succeeded in 1952 by Mrs. Lloyd Johnston, a professional librarian.
In the village of Claremont the Mechanics Institute was established Oct. 21, 1891. On November 21, 1891, 40 subscribers met and officers were elected. A constitution and by-laws were drawn up and Mr. Jobbit was hired as the first librarian at a yearly salary of 5 dollars. The Township of Pickering awarded a grant of 20 dollars. In 1895 the name was changed to the Claremont Association Library. In 1925 land was donated for a new library and the new building was shared with the fire department. The Claremont Library remained in this building until June 21, 1997 when it moved to share a building with the Claremont Community Center.
In 1967 Centennial year Pickering Township was incorporated. The local library boards were dissolved and the Pickering Township Library Board was formed. Claremont was one of the five libraries involved and Mrs. Porter who had been the librarian at Claremont continued in that capacity until she retired in 1971.
In 1925 the Whitevale library league raised 500 dollars to purchase a building. Mr. Norman Miller who was the local blacksmith was appointed librarian and remained in that post until 1955. In January of 1967 the Whitevale Library League agreed to become part of the Township of Pickering Public Library. The Whitevale branch was closed in 2012 due to declining community use.
In 1968 the Bay Ridges branch of the Pickering Public Library opened as a storefront operations and in 1976 when it became too overcrowded, moved to Liverpool Road adjacent to the existing community center. It was the first specially built library building in the Pickering system and the first Pickering Library with an automated check out system. The Bay Ridges branch served the community until the summer of 1998.
The Rouge Hill Branch also started as a storefront location on April 3, 1970 and included an administrative office. In 1974 the Rouge Hill branch took up residence in an unused church on Rougemont Drive and housed the administrative office as well as the technical services and audio/visual departments of the Pickering Public Libraries. The Rouge Hill branch closed in November of 2000 to make way for the new Petticoat Creek branch.
The Greenwood Branch opened June 1, 1980 in the refurbished S.S.# 9 (Greenwood) School House. The Brougham Library closed at this time and the collection was moved into the new School House Library. Lt. Governor Pauline McGibbon and Farley Mowat were among the guests invited to the official opening.
By the early 1980's it was apparent that a large central library was necessary in Pickering. In June of 1982 The Liverpool Community Branch was opened as an interim branch until a central library could be built and opened. Construction began in May 1988 and the new Central Library opened May 22,1990 in the Pickering Civic Complex. It was fully automated and for the first time all the branches were truly connected via the automated catalogue and LAN systems.
The most recent addition to the Pickering Public Library system was the Petticoat Creek Branch, which adjoins the Petticoat Creek Community Center. The official opening took place on Thursday, June 14, 2001.