History of the Library

The StFX University Library was housed in several different buildings prior to the construction of the current Angus L. Macdonald Library. Drawing on information from the University Archives, as well as from the book For the People, A History of St. Francis Xavier University (1996), by retired StFX history professor Dr. James Cameron, here are a few significant notes related to the Library’s history:

StFX Library Timeline:

1856: The original StFX Library contained over 1000 volumes which had been donated or bequeathed, mostly by members of the clergy.
1888: Construction began on a two-story brick building containing classrooms, offices, a chapel, assembly and dining halls, a library, and a museum, with a third dormer level of dormitories. This building, Xavier Hall, still stands, and now houses the Faculty of Education.
1918: The first separate library building was constructed; however, its opening was delayed until 1921.
1920: The first full-time librarian was hired, Mary C. MacDonald, the daughter of a former professor.
1936: As a step towards seeking accreditation through the Association of American Universities, StFX underwent a formal inspection. One of the recommendations of this inspection was that the library be completely reorganized and expanded. War and debt prevented this from coming to pass.
1946: The student body was increasing rapidly and the need for a new library was once again acknowledged. The construction of a new chapel and several residences once again delayed the building of a library.
1964: The University decided to build a new library, which officially opened on July 17, 1965. The four-story brick building was named after the late premier of Nova Scotia and alumnus of StFX, Angus L. Macdonald. The plans used for the Angus L. Macdonald building were ambitious and provided for expansion by envisioning growth to encompass four wings, which would contain an interior courtyard. This sadly never came to pass and is impossible now, as new construction prevents it; however the second wing was built.
1986: The second wing of the current library, Richard Chater Hall, was officially opened on September 27, 1986. This addition effectively doubled the size of the library, as it now comprises 98,000 sq. ft. and provides seating capacity for 900.
2015: The Angus L. Macdonald Library celebrates its 50th Anniversary.