Surviving Another War, 1939–1945
With the outbreak of war in September 1939, enrolment dropped by only 12 percent, and these numbers were easily made up after the summer of 1942 by the arrival on campus of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s University Air Training Corps Number 8, soon followed by a University Naval Training Division. In addition to the hundreds of officer candidates in training, the University also provided technical training courses for large numbers of servicemen in the enlisted ranks. The University was soon operating on a year-round basis, with double-shift instruction and the Library providing up to 14 hours of service each day. The inauguration of accelerated programs in the Dentistry and Medical Faculties to speed the graduation of dentists and physicians compounded demand for the Library’s resources and services, and increased pressure on Cameron’s staff. On top of all this, war also complicated acquisition of European books and journals.
The war years also witnessed a major change in the University’s governing structure through the work of a University Survey Committee, whose recommendations were embodied in a new University Act passed by the Provincial Legislature in the spring of 1942. Under the terms of the new Act, the University assumed control of the training of primary school teachers and the University’s School of Education was raised to the status of a full faculty. This amalgamation brought into the Library system 13,000 volumes. The University also established a Department of Fine Arts, to formalize scholarship and teaching of music and the visual arts.
In the spring of 1945, Cameron reported, somewhat gloomily, on the difficulties of administration, most particularly staffing and acquiring books. He failed to sound optimistic, even as he announced that he had met with an architect about plans which would include a library. Indeed, a capital budget proposal for new buildings, drawn up in July 1944, had earmarked $390,000 (later raised to $400,000) for the new library building. However, President Newton announced that Donald Cameron was resigning as University Librarian, to take on other duties. Cameron died shortly afterward.