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1967: The National Library of Canada opens new HQ

The Story

On June 20, 1967, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson presides over the official opening of the new National Library of Canada building in Ottawa. The $13 million building, which will hold Canadian treasures, is described as an imposing structure of granite, marble, glass and steel. "It's anything but government green," reports CBC's Lloyd Robertson. As heard in this clip, Robertson gives a vivid description of the building's interior from the four rectangular pillars and gold mosaic tiles to the soft brown leather furniture.


Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News
Broadcast Date: June 20, 1967
Host: Lloyd Robertson
Reporter: Brian Smyth
Duration: 5:57
Photo: Padraic from Wikimedia, used under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.

Did You know?

• The National Library of Canada was founded in 1953 to collect and preserve Canada's documentary heritage texts, pictures and other documents.

• The building was originally designed by the Toronto architect Alvan Sherlock Mathers in 1953. (He died in 1965). The final structure was almost identical to Mathers's original model.

• National libraries first appeared in Europe. By 1800, there were 20 national libraries around the world including Britain, France and the United States.

• Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald declared in 1883 that "Canada really ought to have a national library." But it wasn't until after the Second World War that Prime Minister Mackenzie King committed money towards a national library.

• On Jan. 1, 1953, William Kaye Lamb became the National Library of Canada's first head librarian. He was responsible for creating a national catalogue of hundreds of libraries across the country. Lamb also produced a definitive annual listing of all the books published in Canada, The Canadiana, which has been Canada's official national bibliography since 1950.

• In 1968, Guy Sylvestre, a literary scholar, became the second national librarian. He established the rare book and music divisions as well as the children's literature and multilingual services.

• In 1984, Marianne Scott, the former director of libraries at McGill University, became the third national librarian. During this period, the library began a program for the preservation and conservation of titles printed on paper.

• In 1999, award-winning author Roch Carrier became the fourth and the current (2006) national librarian. His mandate was the continued accessibility of the library to Canadians across the country with an emphasis on improving school libraries.

• Canada is one of over 100 countries with a national library. The National Library of Canada is crucial in collecting the country's published documentary heritage and providing library and information services for all Canadians.

• In 2004, the Public Archives of Canada (founded in 1872) and the National Library of Canada merged and Library and Archives Canada was created. In 2014 Dr. Guy Berthiaume was appointed as Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

• Lloyd Robertson left CBC and joined CTV in 1976. In 1983, Robertson was named the senior news anchor for CTV. Over his long career, the Gemini-winning anchor has covered many major events including the story of Terry Fox, the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution and several Olympics.



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