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Arthur Leopold Gladstone McDonald (1898–1981)

by Enid Bishop

Emeritus Librarian Arthur Leopold Gladstone McDonald, the first librarian of the University, died in Canberra on 14 January at the age of 82.

One of the earliest ANU appointees, Mr McDonald took up duty in May 1948, after having served as Deputy Librarian at the University of Melbourne for some years. He undertook the challenging task of assembling a library from scratch to support the four Research Schools which initially comprised the Australian National University.

After organising a program of intensive collection-building and processing in premises temporarily occupied at the University of Melbourne, Mr McDonald presided over the transfer of some 40,000 volumes to Canberra in early 1951, so that basic collections and services would be adequately housed and fully operating on the campus in time for the arrival of the first academic staff members during 1951.

From then until his retirement from the University in 1960, Mr McDonald devoted himself to the task of building strong, carefully selected collections of the highest quality and developing a library service appropriate to the aims and aspirations of the University. At the end of his 12-year term of office the collections totalled over 200,000 volumes.

Mr McDonald's philosophy of librarianship embraced a strong commitment to high professional standards in all areas of library activity. His concept of the ANU Library as an integral part of a regional and national network of interdependent libraries, developing cooperative acquisition policies and reciprocal access arrangements aimed at the maximum benefit of all users, remains completely relevant and applicable to today's needs.

During his years as ANU Librarian, Mr McDonald earned the unanimous respect of academic and library staff alike for his wise and balanced leadership in the Library, and for his fine personal qualities. The University honoured him on retirement by naming a room in the Menzies Building after him, as well as the road leading to the building.

Original publication

Citation details

Enid Bishop, 'McDonald, Arthur Leopold Gladstone (1898–1981)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 May 2024.

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