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1956: Murray Memorial Library opens

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Though the first recorded withdrawal from the University Library occurred in October 1909, nearly five decades passed before the Library had its own building. The early collection was housed either on the second floor of the College Building, later known as the Administration Building, or was scattered among a number of small departmental libraries. Plans for a new library building ended with the Depression; but a dramatically reduced acquisitions budget was offset by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation in 1933. After the death of the University’s first president, Walter Murray, in 1945, a memorial fund was established in his name for the purpose of building a library. A combination of provincial grants and University fundraising financed the construction of the main library, with space for the Provincial Archives, between 1954 and 1956. The College of Law also moved to the new library building. The Murray Memorial Library was officially opened on November 30, 1956, at which time a portrait of Walter Murray (originally painted in 1938) was also unveiled. While it was originally anticipated that a new building would not be needed until 1976, it quickly became apparent that the library would run out of space much sooner. Among other factors, the post-war baby boom and the launching of Sputnik in 1957 had a tremendous impact on the size of the university. As early as 1961 plans for an extension were being discussed, with a requirement study being competed in 1965. Construction began in 1970 and the new wing was officially opened in 1974.

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Related Collections

University Libraries fonds, RG 2016.


1956a: “Finding Your Way in the LIBRARY ” handout. University Libraries fonds, RG 2016, file A.23.j.
1956b: Unveiling of Murray portrait. Photograph Collection, A-605.
1956c: Cornerstone ceremony, June 1955. Photograph Collection, A-599.


University Libraries fonds, RG 2016, files A.23): j) Official opening and k) Newsclippings
Guide to Holdings, p. 105.

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