Library Services

History

The University Health Network Health Sciences Libraries began as three separate libraries:

In 1986, the Toronto Western Hospital merged with The Toronto General Hospital becoming, respectively, the Toronto Western Division and the Toronto General Division of The Toronto Hospital. On January 1, 1998, the amalgamation of The Toronto Hospital with the Ontario Cancer Institute/Princess Margaret Hospital came into effect.

We are now one hospital with three separate and somewhat unique locations. The RC Laird Library and Fudger Medical Library had already merged back in 1986 becoming the TTH Health Sciences Library. As of April 1, 1998, the OCI Library merged with the others, resulting in our current three-branch library system. Our history and our founders are, however, not forgotten. Each library retains its name and its own characteristics and individuality.

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RC Laird Library

In 1896, what was to be known as the RC Laird Library began as a small collection of books donated by the six founding doctors of Toronto Western Hospital. It was put in charge of Dr. Leha A. Davis, one of Canada's first women doctors, who proved to be a distinguished curator.

At first housed in the Medical Records Department, the collection was taken over in 1946 by Dr. WR Feasby, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, who developed and organized it further. It was kept in Dr. Feasby's office until 1953, when medical staff decided to allot it a room of its own. In addition to departmental texts it now included the hospital's subscriptions to journals. A few years later, in 1961, the library moved to an independent location, and the first of its seven librarians to date was appointed.

In April, 1979 the library was named the RC Laird Library in honour of Dr. Robert Laird, former surgeon-in-chief at Toronto Western Hospital from 1946-1966. It was a popular choice. Dr. Laird was much respected and admired for his great dedication to medicine, and his genuine care and concern for his patients. The hospital's Department of Surgery gave $10,000 to the library at the time of its dedication to him.

Born in Brockville, ON, and a graduate of the University of Toronto, Dr. Laird served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, treating many of the pilots who were injured overseas. After twenty years of service to Toronto Western Hospital, he continued his work as chief-of-staff at York-Finch Hospital until his retirement 1972, then devoted the rest of his life to developing medical care in Nigeria, where he established a medical school. Dr. Laird died in December, 1990.

As a result of the Doctor's Hospital closure in June 1998 the DH Library's collection was integrated into the collection at RC Laird Library.

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Health Sciences Library (formerly Fudger Medical Library)

The benefactor of Toronto General Hospital's library Harris Henry Fudger (1852-1930) was a millionaire, a president of the Robert Simpson Company stores in Toronto for 30 years, and a trustee of the hospital for ten years. But above all he was known as a scrupulously honest, kind-hearted and modest man. He supported many of Toronto's cultural endeavours, including the Art Gallery of Ontario with its Fudger wing. In his will, he asked that the proceeds of selling any of his foundations should go to the Toronto General Hospital Endowment Fund, and when this occurred, his executors decided to give $100,000 to found the Fudger Medical Library, now known as the Health Sciences Library.

Up to this time the hospital had no professional library services, and when it was opened in May, 1964 its full-time librarian and staff offered reference and inter-library loan services, and access to 1200 books and over 200 periodicals. It was housed in the south wing of the Private Patient's Pavilion (later named the Thomas J. Bell wing) and later moved to the Eaton Wing first floor.

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Ontario Cancer Institute Library

When the Ontario Cancer Institute was incorporated by an Act of the Legislature of the Province of Ontario in 1952, its members had the responsibility of planning, constructing and establishing buildings to accommodate their three objectives of cancer research, cancer diagnosis and treatment, and observation of and consultation with persons suffering from cancer.

By the end of 1957, some of the research facilities at 500 Sherbourne Street were already occupied. By May 1, 1958 the building was completed. The hospital incorporated in The Ontario Cancer Institute was named "The Princess Margaret Hospital" in 1958.

The OCI Library was originally classed under Patient Services, one role of the Division of Hospital Services. In 1958 the librarian was already involved in providing literature search, reference and inter-library loan services.

As the use of the library grew, it was considered an essential element of the educational services of the hospital. By 1960 the Medical and Scientific Library reported directly to the Director of the Institute by way of the General Services Division. It was considered part of the Ontario Cancer Institute, as opposed to the hospital proper.

In the early days, the OCI Library was established to serve the needs of the Division of Clinical Services, the Division of Biological Research, the Division of Physics and the graduate students who pursued research in the laboratories.

In 1995 the Princess Margaret Hospital relocated to 610 University Avenue. Today, the OCI Library continues to serve the needs of the Institute's researchers, along with the many other professionals working and studying at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

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