University Library

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University Library

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Description area

Dates of existence

History

The University Senate created the University Libraries in 1909. The original collection featured general reference works and required readings for arts and science courses. The collection also contained Canadian books donated to the Library by Dr. A.C. Rutherford. The first library reading room was established in the Guggan St. public school (now Queen Alexandria), the location of the first university classes. The University Senate originally allocated $5,000 to purchase books for a library and endeavored to continue a steadily growing library resource. In 1911, Athabasca Hall was completed. It was used as a combined residence and teaching building. The library was located on the third floor. By this year, through gifts and Senate funds, the Library had acquired a collection of 6,000 books plus leading magazines and newspapers. There were also reference books available for consultation. The Arts building was opened in 1915. It maintained a library reading room in Room 110. The stack room was located on the floor below. During this decade, the Library collections grew slowly with the help of private donations. The Library continued its slow growth through the 1920s. Under D.E. Cameron the Library introduced a $5.00 registration fee for the Library. This was the principal source for books until 1958-1959. The accessions reached 30,000 in 1928 and by 1932 it held 45,085 volumes. In 1928 the Edmonton Academy of Medicine transferred its collection of medical books to the University. This promoted the Library into the chief resource library for medical practitioners across the province. The Library published its first report in 1928. A feature of the first report was a description of the Library binding service, initially performed by Mr. Pyewell. This service continued on campus until 1959 when the service was tendered to private companies. By 1963-64, over two thirds of the 6400 bound volumes were bound off campus. The library experienced space problems throughout the 1920s. Due to lack of space in the Arts building, in 1922 the agricultural and medical reading rooms were moved to other spaces. In 1923 new, separate space was set up for a law library. Ad hoc space solutions continued for the next twenty years while acquisitions and students accumulated. Between 1930 and 1939 the University added approximately 25, 000 volumes. The Library continued its book acquisition through the Depression thanks largely to its registration fee. In 1932 it received a Carnegie Corporation grant of $15,000 to purchase books. As space problems continued the Library began to store books in underground passages. The postwar era brought resources to the Library and responsibilities and services increased. The university Librarian assumed direction of the Edmonton Normal School library when the Faculty of Education took responsibility for all provincial teachers training. The influx of veterans raised the student population to 3,300. The reading room capacity remained 285. Thousands of Education books were taken out of storage in the summer of 1946 to address demand. In 1946, librarians were given academic status and a new salary scale. In Calgary the University Library acquired post-war era independence over acquisition and services. The Calgary education library was reclassified in the Dewey system between 1947 and 1948. The demand for library services in Calgary increased with the growing curriculum. Until 1960, Edmonton campus processed all ordering and classifying for the Calgary library. By 1958, as curriculum changed, the Calgary Library was again reclassified using the Library of Congress system. This project was completed in 1960. By 1963, the Calgary Library was operating in complete independence of Edmonton. In the winter of 1945-46 the plans continued for a new library building. Honorable John Campbell Bowen, Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta, laid the cornerstone for the new library on November 25, 1948. The Rutherford Library was completed in May 1951. 150,000 volumes from various reading rooms on campus were moved to the new building in eight days. Considerable policy, procedure and services were formulated with the new facility’s arrival: 1952 saw the first fines for reserve books; the following year new geography courses initiated a library map collection; the Library Committee was reconstituted.

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