Born in Montreal, Elizabeth Dafoe was educated at the University of Manitoba, the Library School of the New York Public Library (later the Library School of Columbia University) and the Graduate School of the University of Chicago. She joined the library staff of the University of Manitoba in 1925 and 12 years later, in 1937, she was appointed Chief Librarian, a post which she held until her death.
She was a member of the Canadian Library Council Inc., of the Canadian Library Assocation and chaired the Association's conference in 1955. In addition, she served as a member of the National Library Advisory Board, the Manitoba Library Board and as a founding member of the Manitoba Library Association.
In recognition of her vision and accomplishments in the areas of collection development, cataloguing standards and resource sharing, a new library, built in 1953 at the University of Manitoba, was renamed in her honour. Her tireless message of the need for a "national library" and her outspoken ideas helped to define the mandate of the Library and Archives Canada, a mandate that has not changed significantly since its inception in 1953.
Her commitment to quality librarianship, considering it nothing less than essential, continues to benefit many university institutions and library associations and their clients throughout Canada.
Future of bibliography and documentation. Ottawa : Canadian Library Association, 1955. — (Occasional paper ; no. 7)
"A National Library". — Food for thought. Vol. IV, no. 8 (May 1944). — P. 4
"Canada - nation of the new world - a booklist". — The Booklets. Vol. 50, no. 22 (July 15, 1954). P. 429