12. Canada's Oldest Scientific Library (1854)

Canada's Oldest Scientific Library

In the early years Logan supplied nearly all of the scientific books used by the Geological Survey of Canada's staff. That changed in 1854 when the Legislative Select Committee on the Geological Survey voted to add £250 to the budget to ensure that a library "containing the best standard works and books of reference connected with geology and allied sciences" could be maintained. This marked the beginning of Canada's oldest scientific library.

Successive part-time librarians oversaw the library until 1882, when the collection had grown to some 12,000 volumes, and John Thorburn was appointed as the first full-time librarian and curator. The library's subsequent evolution is a fascinating story of buildings, books, and personalities, the development of librarianship as a profession, and the cooperative agreements by which it has developed a world-class collection.

Despite difficulties in organizing a rapidly growing collection, the pressures of space and funding, and occasional political interference, the collection has flourished and grown. It now comprises more than one million items including books, journals, maps, images, and an expanding digital collection.

Canada's Oldest Scientific Library

Category: Publications

Decade: 1850s


MacDonald, P. and Pleasant, R., 2004. Natural Resources Canada Library - Ottawa (Earth Sciences): 150 Years of Library Service.

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