CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Edited by Peter F. McNally. Ottawa, Canadian Library Association, c1986. 258pp, cloth, $25.00, ISBN 0-88802-196-8. CIP

Reviewed by Yoskyl Webb

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

I faced the writing of this review with some trepidation in the capacity of teacher-librarian, thinking that this book should have been placed in the hands of some knowledgeable public librarian, who would already have studied Canadian library history, and would, therefore, have been in a good position to judge the academic value of such a work. My prejudgement led me to believe that library history was on a par with motherhood; however, the foreword enthralled me, and the final chapter, which was recommended to be read first, made me sit up and anticipate reading the rest of the book.

Peter McNally, who has compiled these essays and who has contributed two of them, is an associate professor with the graduate School of Library and Information Studies at McGill, with which university he has been associated for the last twenty years. He is also convenor of the Library History Interest Group of CLA and in these two capacities has ably demonstrated his ability to produce a landmark work in Canadian library history. These essays are intended as a guide to deeper research, and McNally makes his plea: "Canadian library history. . js in desperate need of research fronts, works of synthesis. . . .Our graduate library schools must finally shoulder their responsibility to ensure that these needs are met." Further, he states, "Libraries in every society constitute a significant litmus test of the cultural and intellectual life of a people. In mapping the mind of the Canadian past. . .the history of our libraries must constitute an important element."

Readings in Canadian Library History is a sequel to the collection of eleven historical essays published in the Canadian Library Journal in the December 1981 issue, and it covers the period 1982-84 when fourteen papers in all were presented at the Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Toronto annual conferences. Four unread papers are also included. The essays are divided into five categories: historiography, methodology, public libraries, diverse perspectives, and biography. Their content and style of presentation are as individualistic as are their presenters, who range from the librarians of government commissions to university lecturers. All the essayists are academic experts in their fields. Bibliographic references are extensive and appear impeccable. Black-and-white photographs enhance the essays on "The First Hundred Years of the Toronto Public Library" and on "Heritage to High-Tech-Evolution of Image and Function in Canadian Public Library Buildings."

This work will be a landmark reference source for all library history researchers, who, as the editor pleads, ". . .should delve into the broad social, cultural and intellectual contexts of libraries, rather than internal institutional and administrative activities of individual libraries, or the science and technology of information management and scientific research." Recommended for purchase by all academic and public libraries that are accessed by students of library science, and by librarians interested in the history of their profession.

Yoskyl Webb, Sutherland S.S., North Vancouver, B.C.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works