Harriet Irving Library

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Building Name: Harriet Irving Library

Harriet Irving Library, [after 1967]. PR; Series 1; Sub-series 5; Item 6910.

Other Names: New Library, the HIL

Civic Address: 5 Macaulay Lane

Sod Turning: 20 May 1965 by K.C. Irving

Cornerstone Laying: 18 May 1966 by Harriet Irving

Opened for Use: 8 May 1967

Official Opening: 11 October 1967 by Harriet Irving

Architect: Larson and Larson

Named for: Harriet (MacNairn) Irving (1899 - 1976) of Rexton, NB, first wife of New Brunswick industrialist K.C. Irving. IN 1996 the Irving family created an acquisitions fund for the library.

Renovations/additions: Changes were made to the first floor in 1983 which improved information and reference finding capabilities. In 1988 interior was re-organized to put stacks into better-suited positions. Refurbishment of the H. R. Stewart Exhibition Room was completed Fall 2000. The renovation of the ground floor created the John B. MacNair Learning Commons, which officially opened 25 May 2009, featured a group study rooms, a service desk, a cafe, and a research and technology help desk. The Harriet Irving Library Research Common, which comprises the third floor, was opened in fall 2020 (official opening 29 Nov, 2021) and funded by the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation as a modern, inter-disciplinary, research-driven learning environment to further innovation, scholarship, and research at the University of New Brunswick.

Notes: The Harriet Irving Library is the main library at UNB Fredericton. The Beaverbrook Room on the fourth floor houses many first-edition publications donated by Lord Beaverbrook. The H.R. Stewart Room was named during the official opening of the library in 1967. The Harriet Irving Library was the site of student demonstrations during the Strax Affair in September 1968. On 15 May 1980 the Nan Vesta Gregg Room was officially opened. During National Archives Week the Winslow Room, part of the Archives & Special Collections Department, was officially opened on 22 October 1984. Portraits of Bliss Carman and Alden Nowlan were unveiled on 15 May 1968 and 18 March 2009 respectively. Branch Libraries include the Engineering Library, Law Library, Science Library, and UNB Saint John's library, the Hans W. Klohn Commons.

Named Spaces: H.R. Stewart Room (5th floor), Named in 1967 for Hugh Ronald Stewart, a legendary bibliophile and collector of documents relating to the life and career General James Wolf as well as having a military career and positions with the Department of National Defence. His collection was transferred to UNB Libraries in 1967. The present room was redesigned as as a exhibit space for UNB Archives in 2000.

Winslow Room (506) This research room at UNB Archives was officially opened in 1984 and is named for Edward Winslow who was a loyalist of the American Revolutionary War. In 1783, he supervised settlement of the disbanded regiment in the Saint John River Valley and was appointed to the first council of the College of New Brunswick in 1800, to the Supreme Court in 1807 and President of the Government of New Brunswick in 1808. Lord Beaverbrook Reading Room (412) Creation of this room recorded the gratitude of the University to the Right Honourable Lord Beaverbrook, chancellor from 1947-1964, for his many benefactions. The room contains a number of books from his own library.

Nan Vest Gregg Room (413), This room, opened in 1980 is named in honour of Nan V. Gregg, a patron of fine arts and long time head of the library's reference department, who for thirty years gave devoted service to UNB. The room houses the Eileen Wallace Children's Literature Collection, established in 1988. Eileen Wallace was a pioneer professor of children's literature in New Brunswick and was the founder and benefactor of UNB's unique children's literature research collection.

John B. McNair Learning Commons (first floor), The Learning Commons offers UNB’s students an enriched learning environment incorporating service points, social learning space, technology and study spaces. Named in honour of John B. McNair, one of the most accomplished scholars, jurists, and public servants ever to graduate from UNB. McNair served UNB as a member of the Senate and the Associated Alumni and entered the Legislature in 1935 and became Premier in 1940, serving for twelve years. In 1955, he was appointed the province's Chief Justice and in 1965, the Lieutenant-Governor. John B. McNair is the only person ever to have held all three of New Brunswick's top public offices.

Harriet Irving Library Research Common (third floor), named for Harriet (MacNairn) Irving (1899 - 1976) of Rexton, NB, first wife of New Brunswick industrialist K.C. Irving.


  • UA Case 133; Section 3.
  • University of New Brunswick (Fredericton Campus), "Building, Field and Road Names, Named Spaces Within Buildings," Prepared for Office of Chief Advancement Officer and Office of Development and Donor Relations by Peter C. Gough, October 2007.

© UNB Archives & Special Collections, 2014