LETHBRIDGE - In the words of University of Lethbridge President Mike Mahon, "Libraries are all about books and material that represents knowledge and history."
For that reason, and as the institute of higher learning winds down celebrations for its 50th anniversary, the university was very grateful on Friday (Dec 1) to receive the donation of a private collection of rare Western Canadian history books.
The collection of 6,774 volumes was a gift from Dr. Robert Lampard, a former Red Deer physician who had collected the tomes over several decades.
"It was such an absolutely fabulous fit, of what I had and what the University of Lethbridge didn't have - they've been waiting 50 years for a book collection to be donated and I feel extremely fortunate that they accepted mine."
The donation includes a complete series of the Champlain Historical Society publications and all the volumes of the Hudson’s Bay Record Society, as well as books outlining the exploration of the Canadian Arctic.
Barbara Ellis, owner of The Edmonton Book Store and a member of the National Archives Appraisal Board of Canada, outlined the magnitude of the works.
“The broad scope of the collection will provide western Canadian researchers with a wealth of information about early Canadian exploration, the Arctic, mountaineering, early Canadian railway development (especially Sandford Fleming), western Canadian banking and business history, the political and religious history of the prairie provinces, native studies, the HBC, railways, ranching, the fur trade, local history, the Canadian military and policing, natural history, geology and Canadian art."
About 50 reference books have been signed by their authors, while materials have come from the pens of John Palliser, Henry Youle Hind, Paul Kane, George Dawson, George Gladman, Alexander Begg and George Simpson.
Lampard's extensive collection of books, at one point, took over his home's indoor swimming pool. It wasn't the greatest storage room for the historical volumes and he began to question what should be done with the collection.
About two years ago, Lampard got in touch with U-of-L Archivist Mike Perry, who recognized the impact the collection would have on expanding information and research opportunities.
Perry says the gift has already had positive repercussions.
“It has made our Special Collections a destination for students and other researchers in a number of areas. It has increased our ability to preserve and protect the collection and having the collection stay in Alberta, and accessible to the public through the opening of the Dr. Dorothy Lampard Reading Room, is fantastic. In a hundred years, it should provide just as much excitement as it does now.”
So, who was Dorothy Lampard? This is where the bigger connection to the U-of-L comes in.
Dr. Dorothy Lampard was Dr. Robert Lampard's aunt. She began her career as a one-room school teacher in the 1930s, but went on to train in Winnipeg, Chicago and Birmingham and was recognized as an expert in remedial education and reading problems. She was the first director of the International Reading Association, a founding faculty member and a senator at the U-of-L.
Many of the donated books, will be added to Special Collections and housed in the Dorothy Lampard Reading Room at the university.
U-of-L President Mike Mahon, says the collection represents an amazing part of the history of western Canada and the north-west U-S.
"To have the kind of rare books that the collection represents, is an opportunity for our students to really be able to touch history by engaging with the materials, but also for faculty members and researchers to be able to use the materials as they do basic research into the history of western Canada."
Mahon also noted the relationship that is being recognized by the donation.
"We are so pleased to be able to honour one of our historic faculty members in Dorothy, to have her legacy in terms of her connection to reading being recognized in the reading room, but also to recognize in our 50th anniversary year, one of our founding faculty members, is really special and means we've been able to celebrate a whole bunch of different things related to the history of the University of Lethbridge over the 12 months of our anniversary celebrations."
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