"Libraries are not made; they grow".

- Augustine Birrell

Acadia Libraries Through the Years


Acadia's library collection, housed in the Vaughan Memorial Library since 1965, traces its origins to the earliest days of the University. In 1841, just a few years after the founding of Acadia College, three books donated by a Presbyterian minister, Rev. John Sprott, comprised the first library holdings (Ingraham). That small beginning must have developed considerably as a result of the legacy of W.S. DeWolfe of Liverpool who, in 1843, left 1,000 pounds to the College. This was to be invested and half the interest used for the library. At about the same time, agents sent out by the Education Society to secure funding for the new college also received donations of books and funds designated for the library. In the United States, for instance, Mr. I.E. Bill collected books worth about twenty dollars and in Britain, Rev. John Prior collected two hundred pounds worth, including contributions by distinguished authors of the day of some of their own works (Coldwell).

Isaac Chipman, who joined Acadia's faculty in 1841 and whose initiative resulted in the "College built without money," was also engaged in finding donations for the library and in filling gaps in the collection (Ingraham; Moody). Where this collection was housed initially is not known, but with the completion of the first College Hall in the summer of 1854, the library and museum took up a room in the new west wing (Ingraham).

The collection undoubtedly continued to grow slowly over the next twenty years, but on December 2, 1877, the first College Hall burned to the ground. Portraits hanging in the library were saved, as were most of the books, but they were "in a damaged condition" (Coldwell).

A new college building quickly replaced the old one in 1879. There the library shared the second storey with the museum and the assembly hall. Years later, former students described the room: "a high ceiling gave it the effect of spaciousness, and a gallery, with tables and chairs disposed at intervals, made high shelving possible and furnished places for quiet study groups" (Ingraham). It also contained over 3,000 volumes. At a celebration in 1878 to mark the anniversary of Horton Academy and Acadia College, this collection was described as "carefully selected and well adapted to the wants of the students" (Coldwell).

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College Hall
First College Hall First College Hall destroyed
Second College Hall Library in Second College Hall

There are other indications, however, that library users of the late 19th century considered the collection and the services to be inadequate (Haliburton; Ingraham; Moody). In November 1883, a writer in the Athenaeum lamented the lack of "scientific and literary monthlies and educational journals." In March 1892, "J.E.B." complained that the library was "quite lacking in order and classification" and needed to focus its book buying on texts that students pursuing advanced studies in certain subjects might be expected to read.

During the 19th century and into the 20th, the library was supervised on a part time basis by faculty members with full teaching loads. The first of these was Professor A.E. Coldwell, who served as librarian from 1885 (and possibly earlier) to 1890. Coldwell opened the room for only two hours, twice a week. By 1892, his successor, Professor L.E. Wortman, was keeping the library open five afternoons a week. E.W. Sawyer followed in 1896. During his tenure, the library acquired 1884 volumes from the extensive personal library of J.M. Cramp, a former president of the College. These and other additions must have improved the quality of the collection while at the same time making it more difficult for professors who had other responsibilities to find the time to organize it adequately (Ingraham).

Dr. George B. Cutten, who became University President in 1910, believed that the library should have full-time, professional direction as well as improved collections and facilities if it were to meet adequately the needs of students and faculty. Mabel L. Wortman was hired in 1910 and was soon joined by the new head librarian (1910-1914) Jean Steadman Haley. A graduate of Acadia and of the Library Science programme at Simmons College in Massachusetts, Miss Haley became Acadia's first professionally-trained librarian. Under her direction, the collection of approximately 15,000 volumes was re-catalogued and classified (Ingraham).

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Acadia College and Faculty, including A.E. Coldwell and L.E. Wortman
J. M. Cramp
Jean Steadman

Plans were also underway for a new university building to meet the needs of a growing library collection. With funds donated by the family of the late Rev. R.H. Emmerson, a stone building that would house 125,000 volumes was designed by Halifax architect Andrew R. Cobb. When Jean Haley left the university to marry Dr. Malcolm R. Elliott, another Simmons graduate, Amy F. Freeman, supervised the move of books into the Emmerson Memorial Library, which was officially opened in 1915 (Ingraham).

When Mrs. Mary Kinley Ingraham joined Acadia in 1917 as the new chief librarian, there were nearly 20,000 books listed in the library catalogue. Several significant additions were made in the years that followed-"the era of Special Collections" (Ingraham). The first of these was the collection of Canadiana amassed by Major J.P. Edwards and acquired by the university in 1917. Funds for the purchase were donated by the family of Senator William Dennis of Halifax and the collection was renamed in memory of his son, Captain Eric R. Dennis, who was killed during the First World War. Other notable acquisitions included the John D. Logan Collection of Canadian Literature and the William Inglis Morse Collection. The latter included some very rare and valuable volumes and concerns for their safety resulted in a move to locked bookcases in Faculty Hall in the Administration Building (Ingraham).

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Emmerson Memorial
reading room
Emmerson stacks

Mrs. Ingraham herself, serving as head librarian until 1944, was a valuable asset not only to the university but to the library community in the Maritime Provinces. During her tenure she taught courses in library history and administration, promoted outreach services to outlying communities and served as secretary of the Maritime Library Institute and editor of its Bulletin. On her retirement she was made Librarian Emeritus and in 1949 the university awarded her an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws.

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Mary Kinley Ingraham
Maurice P. Boone
Harry W. Ganong

Mrs. Ingraham was succeeded as university librarian by Maurice P. Boone (1944-1950), who left Acadia to become New Brunswick's Legislative Librarian. In 1951 Harry W. Ganong , a member of the library staff since 1946, became its new head. Serving in this position until 1971, it was Mr. Ganong who would play an important part in the planning of Vaughan Memorial Library (Kirkconnell).

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Vaughan Memorial Library
Vaughan Memorial Library

Opened in 1965, the Vaughan was "a dream come true." Utilizing the steep slope on which it was built, it also boasted "the latest developments in functional library design and layout" (Acadia Bulletin, December 1965). With plans to accommodate 350,000 volumes and 900 readers when all five floors were furnished and equipped, the library housed offices and classrooms on its top two floors until the opening of the Beveridge Arts Centre in 1978.

The new building and the subsequent move of collections to the top two floors made it possible to reorganize and add to the library's Special Collections. In 1978, a new room was constructed on what is now level B1 to house the books, journals and papers that Dr. Watson Kirkconnell had recently bequeathed to the library. The Kirkconnell Room now also contains the Dennis, Logan, Morse and other Special Collections.

However, requirements for more space continued, especially following the move of holdings from the Huggins Science Library to the Vaughan in 1987. In 1988, an extension was built connecting the Vaughan Memorial Library with the Beveridge Arts Centre. The Wu Wing, named in honour of Dr. Jieh-Yee Wu of Hong Kong, a generous donor to the library and the father of three Acadia graduates, houses the Esther Clark Wright Archives, opened in 1989. In this secure and climate controlled area are stored university records, Acadia theses and the Atlantic Baptist Archives.

During Isobel Horton's term as chief librarian (1976-1982), the library made its first moves into library automation. Online literature searches began to be offered in 1979. However, it was under the leadership of Iain Bates, university librarian from 1982 to 1992, that the library saw significant changes, with the conversion of its paper catalogue to an online system and the use of a number of online and CD-ROM indexes and databases. Close collaboration with the Computer Centre facilitated the development of in-house library system that was eventually replaced by the current Sirsi system in the 1990s.

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Iain Bates
Iain Bates Esther Clark Wright
Beveridge Arts
Centre Building
Kirkconnell Room Dr. Watson Kirkconnell

Following the retirement of Iain Bates, Andre Guay served as university librarian until the appointment of Lorraine McQueen in 1996. During Mrs. McQueen's term, computer technology once again had a major impact on library services with the university's adoption of the Acadia Advantage program. Renovations took place in many areas of the library to ensure that students were able to access all kinds of information sources on their laptops from upgraded workstations. Keeping up with technology is an ongoing process; in the summer of 2004, wireless network access was introduced in various areas of the library.

In 2002, the Vaughan welcomed Sara Lochhead, our current university librarian. The library continues to face challenges created by growing collections and technological developments as well as our own commitment to providing the highest standard of services and collections to support the study, research and teaching needs of students and faculty. As we celebrate the Vaughan's 40th year, we not only reflect on our history and accomplishments, but we also look forward to more achievements to come.

Andre Guay Lorraine McQueen Sara Lochhead
Andre Guay Lorraine McQueen Sara Lochhead