The 40's

The President,
Memorial University College.

I have the honour to present the following report on the Library for the academic year 1944-1945.

Growth and Development. During the year now closing, upwards of six hundred and fifty books were added to the College Library, bringing the total collection to the gratifying figure of fourteen thousand volumes. These additions include gifts from the following kind friends:

  • Acadia University
  • R. Barrett, Esq.
  • Christian Science Committee on Publication for Newfoundland.
  • R. Duder, Esq., M.A.
  • F. R. Emerson, Esq., K.C.
  • H. L. Etheridge, Esq., B.S., B.A.
  • Miss Mary Fitzpatrick, M.A.
  • The Gosling Memorial Library
  • Lloyd George, Esq.
  • P. J. Hanley, Esq., B.A.
  • J. G. Higgins, Esq., B.A., K.C.
  • Mrs. A. C. Hunter, M.A.
  • Newfoundland Government Department of Home Affairs
  • The John Rylands Library, Manchester
  • R. Purchase, Esq.
  • The St. John's Players
  • Secretary for National Propaganda, Portugal
  • Dr. Harry L. Smith
  • The Smithsonian Institution, Washington.
  • P. L. Soper, Esq.
  • Dr. Carleton Stanley, President of Dalhousie University.
  • U.S.S.R. Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries.
  • However, most of the books acquired during the year were bought out of our Book Fund and were of four kinds: (1) those required in the teaching of courses, (2) reference books to provide the general information which is the background of those courses, (3) materials for research (even in our small College students do undertake some research, particularly when preparing their long essays for the Second Year courses in English and in Principles of Education), (4) books for extra-curricular and recreational reading. In the choice of these books members of the Faculty of course participate, but it is the Librarian's pleasant responsibility to shape the character of the collection as a whole, and to see that no legitimate interests are neglected and none unduly emphasized. An eye is kept on the second-hand and out-of-print markets in the hope of filling long-standing gaps and the current book-reviews give valuable help in deciding which of the many books being published are most likely to serve our purposes.

    Periodicals form an important part of any college library. They provide reading directly related to the students' courses, they supply general and educational reading, they keep the Faculty informed of developments in their respective fields. During the year the number of periodicals regularly received in the Library has reached the pleasing total of seventy -- all journals of repute. Some of these are gifts, three are passed on to us from the Gosling Memorial Library and the rest are bought out of Library funds.

    Periodicals, however, are not merely of current interest and use. They have been wisely called "the backbone of the college library's reference materials." They represent a pleasing and continuing investment which should be safeguarded by sufficient funds for binding. In the past, owing to lack of funds and the difficulty of getting the work done locally, we have had only two periodicals bound regularly. During the coming summer, however, a start is to be made in having the back files of our magazines bound and next year a definite sum will be allotted for this very necessary work.

    Publicity. New students were given an introductory talk on the resources and workings of the Library and each one was supplied with a copy of the Library Handbook. Throughout the year, as new books arrived and were made ready for circulation their paper jackets were displayed on the large notice board outside the Main Reading Room and the books themselves were placed on the Books-of-the-Week Table where they remained for one week, after which they could be borrowed in the ordinary way. A cumulative classified list of additions to the Library was prepared and made available to students and staff, and the weekly College Notes in the "Daily News" carried brief accounts of new books.

    Exhibition of Rare Books. In the Fall of 1944 an exhibition of some of our old and rare books was held in the Library and the interest which it aroused was most gratifying. The display illustrated the history of book-making and the development of typography and binding from the sixteenth century to our own day.

    Use of the Library. The Library has been well used during the year. Students have quickly learned how to find the information they require and how to use the guides to the Library's resources. They have made good use of the periodicals, both for their own general interests and for the more utilitarian purposes of their studies. If students had more time to read and browse, I should of course be happier; but given the crowded schedule which is the lot of most of them and given the competition with serious reading offered by the radio, the movies, the digest and picture magazines, I think that they do very well.

    Queen's College. The Reverend E. C. Simpson, M.A., Principal of Queen's College, has during the past winter classified and catalogued the fine theological and classical library of his institution. In return for some guidance and assistance given by me, Mr. Simpson has kindly made for us a duplicate of the catalogue of his library. We have therefore now in the Library of the Memorial University College added to the list of our own holdings that of an affiliated College - we have in short the first "union catalogue" in this country. Perhaps in the future this desirable practice may be extended to other affiliated libraries so that ultimately we shall have gathered together in the College a complete list of the books in many scholarly institutions in Newfoundland.

    Gosling Memorial Library. Our collaboration with our sister library has continued throughout the year. We have received valuable reference books on what is termed "permanent loan" and have also enjoyed the use of three periodicals belonging to the Public Library. Moreover, our students have made heavy demands on the resources and the staff of the Gosling Memorial Library, demands which have been met with a cheerful and ready response.

    Assistance. I am grateful to the other members of the Library Committee: Dr. A. C. Hunter, Professor G. A. Hickman and Dr. E. C. Smith for their kind assistance and advice when called upon; to Miss Louise Whiteway for her help in the work of cataloguing new books and in supervising the North Reading Room during the times when she is on duty; to the other Library Prefects for the faithful discharge of their responsibilities and their willingness to meet those extra demands on their time which were sometimes necessary.

    Professional Visits. During the summer of 1944 I was privileged to spend six weeks on the staff of the New York Public Library, one of the most scholarly libraries in the United States, with a collection of four and a quarter million volumes. While it is a far cry from their great institutions of research to our small Library here, the experience gained there has already proved its usefulness, especially in the selection of new technical books for our collection.

    I was also able last summer to visit the great Library of Congress in Washington and to get some valuable advice on the planning of a periodical room, advice which I hope we shall be able to put into effect in the not too distant future.

    The Future. You, Sir, are well aware of how urgently the Library requires more space. In my report to you of May, 1943, I wrote:

      "During the year now closing it has become increasingly evident that the Library cannot long be held within its present confines. All available space is now occupied. Books are lying on tables because there is no room on the shelves, and there is not room for another stack because the Annex to the Main Reading-Room must also function as a reading-room. If the Library is to continue growing, and its life is in its growth, additional space must be found."

    In my report of May, 1944, I was able to say:

      "Plans are under way to extend the Library into the basement, access to this extension to be made by means of a small staircase. In this new space it will be possible to provide accommodation for the books which we shall get during the next few years, and we shall also be able to provide facilities there for uninterrupted study in complete privacy.

      Recommendations for the necessary alterations are in the hands of the Department of Public Works and it is understood that the work will be done during the coming summer holidays."

    Alas, the work has never commenced and during the past year the congestion and resulting confusion in the Library have assumed alarming proportions. More books cannot be crowded into the most of the cases and even if the present stock were weeded of the less-used material, space for the removed books would have to be found elsewhere. But it is not only space for books and magazines that is needed. The reading-rooms as at present laid out and furnished do not provide those facilities for uninterrupted study which I feel the College ought to be able to offer, at least to its more advanced and serious students.

    I cannot urge too strongly that this whole matter be brought before the competent authorities and the necessary work be done during the coming summer vacation. I feel assured that you, Sir, will give it that same consideration and help which matters relating to the welfare of the Library have always received at your hands,

    Respectfully submitted,

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