Information page about the Memorial Library (1927-1970) from Mount Allison's library history page:
Memorial Library 1927-1970The Tudor-style Mount Allison Memorial Library was opened on 8 June 19271, and dedicated to those Allisonians who lost their lives in World War One. President George J. Trueman chaired the event. The crowd that assembled were addressed by the Honorable W. F. Todd, Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, and Rev. C. MacKinnon, Principal of Pine Hill Divinity Hall. The occasion concluded with the reading of the names of the war dead. For the first time in Mount Allison’s eighty-four year history there was a building dedicated solely to library purposes. This allowed the consolidation of library holdings that had been scattered in a number of buildings around campus. The new $110,000 building was built to accommodate 60,000 volumes, providing the necessary room for growth. Staff consisted of faculty member Dr. F. W. W. DesBarres a cataloguer and two clerks. By 1940, DesBarres and his staff had increased the collection to 43,000 volumes. The Mary Mellish Archibald Memorial Library (MMAML), formerly in the Ladies’ College, had been assigned its own room, complete with oak furniture and sound equipment for the record collection. In the 1930s it was extended across a complete floor of the stacks. A ‘capacious vault’ was provided to provide a fireproof space for archival material.2
In 1942, Winifred Snider (BA, B.LSc. (Toronto), who had worked as Dr. DesBarres’ Assistant Librarian for nine years, was appointed as chief Librarian, the first professional librarian to hold this position at Mount Allison. When she left the position in 1945, changes were introduced and professor H. P. Gundy, after a summer session in Library Administration at Columbia University, was appointed Director of Library Services. Mary D. Falconer (1945 - 1949) served as Librarian, by which time the holdings had increased to 75,000 volumes. She was followed by Olga Bishop (1949 - 1953), and Laurie Allison (1953 - 1967).
As spacious as the new building had seemed when first occupied, the period of rapid expansion common to all universities after World War Two made an addition to the library necessary. The collection had grown to 120,000 volumes by the mid 1950s, archival material spilled over from the Vault into the Board Room, and staff had increased to ten persons. A 1950 student guide noted branch libraries – a library in the Science Building, the Carnegie Music Collection of eighty books in the office of the Dean of Music, and a library in the common room of the Academy.
An expansion was critically needed and plans set in motion. The William Morley Tweedie Annex3 opened on 13 August 1960, increasing the stack capacity of the building to 140,000 volumes. It was funded through a bequest from professor W. M. Tweedie and his sister Leora Tweedie and a grant from the Canada Council. The Annex provided only short-term relief and space issues quickly surfaced again because of the continued and accelerated growth of the University in the 1960s. In addition, the library was receiving large gifts of books, such as the collection of Acadiana donated by Winthrop Pickard Bell in 1965.
The compilers of the Mount Allison Faculty Association's 1962 Excellence Report4 had calculated that at the current rate of acquisition, the Memorial Library would be full by 1967. They therefore recommended a further expansion to the building. A subsequent study determined that the site would not accommodate another addition and, besides, would not meet the requirements of a modern library.
In 1966, President Laurie Cragg described the radical conceptual changes in library architecture and services that had occurred since 1927:
“Gone is the concept of the baronial entrance hall, of the lofty spacious reading rooms, of the separated limited-access stacks; outmoded too is the idea that a library is solely a place to store and consult printed (or written) material. The modern library should make a variety of study materials – books, periodicals, documents, microfilm and micro-cards, maps, records, tapes, prints and reproductions – readily accessible to all its patrons. The books should be in open stacks with reading tables dispersed among them; there should be study carrels, faculty studies (sic), typing rooms, audio visual rooms, rare book rooms, browsing rooms – all the appointments that will make reading and study attractive and convenient”.5
In 1966 preparations began for a new library building. Chief Librarian Eleanor Magee (1967-1979) assisted in its planning and was responsible for supervising the move to new quarters. When the Ralph Pickard Bell Library opened in October 1970, the Memorial Library building underwent significant renovations and became a University Centre for students and alumni.
1 Designed by Andrew Cobb, Halifax, NS. Contractor was H. O. Clark, Saint John, NB. The building was faced with red Sackville stone on the body of the building, with the olive stone from the Read quarry at Dorchester for the trim.3 William Morley Tweedie taught English Language and Literature at Mount Allison from 1887 to 1937. The Annex was designed by the architectural firm C. A. Fowler & Co. of Halifax, NS and built by Parsons Construction Limited, Moncton, NB
From the CBC:
Mount Allison University has decided to tear down the historic Memorial Library building on campus to make way for a new fine and performing arts centre, saying the increased pricetag to save it would be too much to bear
“The cost to the university to maintain the building was excessive,” said David Stewart, Mount A’s vice-president of administration.
Stewart said the estimated cost of the new fine and performing arts facility is set at about $30 million, but would increase to $35 million if it were to renovate the existing building to convert it for use as a modern arts centre. Those additional funds would add an extra burden onto the university’s operating budget, likely resulting in a rise in tuition fees.
“That $5 million would have to come from our students,” he said.
The former Memorial Library building (more recently known as the old student centre) was built in 1927 by renowned architect Andrew Randall Cobb and was dedicated to the Mount Allison alumni who had lost their lives in the First World War. The plaques honouring the victims of WWI are now on display in the new student centre.
The building was used as a library and meeting place for many years until it was replaced by the Ralph Pickard Bell Library in the 1970s. In the ensuing years, it was used as the university's student centre and pub until a new one was opened on the other side of campus.
Stewart said over the summer the university has been doing its “due diligence” before deciding whether to retain or replace the building when it moves forward on plans for its new fine and performing arts centre.
Earlier this month, the board of regents reviewed information and opinion that had been gathered since its meeting in May, when the administration had been asked to review the possibility of saving the Memorial Library.
Stewart said it’s standard procedure for the university to start out each infrastructure project by doing all they can to save an existing building.
“Unfortunately, though, sometimes we just can’t.”
He said the board, after examining the material and asking questions about all dimensions of the project – from technical and design issues to location and financial ones – decided that the university should move forward with the design of a new facility, while incorporating and preserving elements of the existing building.
There are simply too many structural and electrical issues that would cost too much to overcome, said Stewart. He noted there is evidence of fatigue in the main supporting beams, a lack of headroom for the building’s purpose, and the need to completely replace all mechanical and electrical systems.
“We always have to do what’s best for the students and faculty,” said Stewart. “And it’s an expensive proposition to keep that building.”
Stewart said of the $30 million required to fund this project, $20 million will be brought in through fundraising and alumni support. The remaining $10 million will come from the university itself.
Stewart said although he understands the public outcry to preserve the building, sometimes it’s just not fiscally possible to do so.
He said, however, that Mount A is committed to maintaining its campus the best it can and has demonstrated its sensitivity to historically important properties.
Approximately $10 million annually is spent on building and grounds upkeep, including the recent restoration of the Wallace McCain Student Centre building, Colville House, the Benett Building, and Anchorage.
As well, a major restoration is currently underway at the Owens Art Gallery and work on renovating the historic Black House is also being initiated.
Stewart said the design work for the new arts centre is anticipated to get under way within the next six to eight months, and will take about 18 months to two years to complete with construction expected to begin in the fall of 2012.
Published on July 22nd, 2010