Early Libraries 1843-1927
Mount Allison has had a library since its establishment as the Mount Allison Wesleyan Academy in 1843. By 1851 the library had 3,000 volumes. A succession of faculty members was assigned to serve as the librarian in addition to their teaching duties. This practice continued for almost a century, until the first professional librarian was hired in the 1940s.

Provision of books in the early years relied on a number of sources. Beginning with the opening of Mount Allison Wesleyan College in 1863, all students were expected to pay a small fee that contributed to library purchases. Faculty also played a role: they studied bookstore catalogues, donated money to support purchases, gave their time to prepare catalogues and indexes, and encouraged interested individuals to donate volumes or funds to improve the collection. The Alumni and Alumnae Societies made careful selections. There were many gifts from Methodist ministers, and former students gave personal gifts. At this time the collection focused on theological works and scripture commentaries, and the classics of history, biography and literature.

During the early years, the library was housed in a succession of buildings. Initially it was in the Academy building. After the establishment of the Mount Allison Wesleyan College (1863), it was housed in Lingley Hall. In 1878, the collection was divided between the three Mount Allison institutions. The college library was moved to College Hall, while the Male Academy and the Ladies' College each renovated rooms in their buildings to accommodate a library. In 1884 the College library collection moved into the newly constructed Centennial Hall, while smaller libraries remained in the Ladies’ College and the Academy.

As the student population grew, so too did the holdings and the Centennial Hall space soon became inadequate. By 1919 it had become obvious that a building dedicated solely to the library and infant archives was necessary.1

In 1926 The Record reported: “We have at the present time some twenty-five thousand books in the different libraries, scattered in many rooms, large numbers of them not available for use, many of them packed in boxes and very few of them so catalogued as to be fully available.”2  Books were packed in double rows on shelves, making them difficult to find or consult, and others were stored in various rooms, including the garret. New shelves had been added but they jutted into the room, further limiting table-space in Centennial Hall.3  Citing lack of space, improper storage facilities, and a lack of centrality, The Mount Allison Record published a series of articles describing the need for a new building, and asking alumni to contribute to the Memorial Library Campaign. Fund raising had its setbacks but despite these the new Memorial Library opened in 1927.

1. The Mount Allison Record February 1919, Volume III, No. 5, p. 34ff

2. Mount Allison Record,  March 1926

3. Mount Allison Record, January/February 1927


Faculty seated in

Lingley Hall Library, 1878

Mount Allison Archives, Picture Collection 2007.07/185

Centennial Hall Library

Mount Allison Archives,

R. C. Archibald fonds 5501/9/2/1/67

Centennial Hall Library

Mount Allison Archives,



Student Handbook1898

re: Centennial Hall Library

Mount Allison Archives MAGIC files