The true university of these days is a collection of books.
—Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881), Scottish historian, essayist, and critic
No university in the world has ever risen to greatness without a correspondingly great library….When this is no longer true, then our civilization will have come to an end.
—Lawrence Clark Powell (1906–2001), University Librarian and first Dean of the UCLA Library School
Over the course of its first century, the University of Alberta Library has grown from the humblest of beginnings to rank as the second-largest library in Canada, and one of the twenty largest academic research libraries in North America. Today, more than 70 librarians and 200 associate staff provide information and research services to the students and faculty of the University of Alberta, as well as to a host of others locally, nationally, and internationally. With collections that in 2007 exceeded 7 million titles (equalling more than 10 million physical items), as well as licensed, online access to hundreds of thousands of electronic books and journals, the UofA Library plays a vital role in providing access to the latest published results of scholarly research, but also, as a library of record, to a vast catalogue of human civilization in all its recorded forms.
The story of the UofA Library’s growth and development is a testament to the dedication and labours of several generations of dedicated staff and supportive faculty and administrators who, despite the setbacks and disappointments engendered by two world wars and economic stringency, never wavered in their vision of the Library as the heart of the University.