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Margaret Beckman

Photograph of Margaret Beckman

(1926- 2008)

Academic Librarian, Library Administrator


Margaret Beckman achieved many "firsts" during her library career. She is the first woman and first Canadian to receive an honorary professorship from the University of Essen and the first Canadian to receive the American Association of College and Research Libraries' Academic Librarian of the Year Award.

Born in Connecticut in 1926, she became a Canadian citizen at age 21. After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from the University of Western Ontario, and a Bachelor of Library Science and a Master of Library Science from the University of Toronto, she worked at various libraries in Southwestern Ontario prior to joining the University of Guelph as Systems Librarian in 1966. She became Deputy Librarian, then Chief Librarian in 1971. In this capacity, she was very active in the early implementation of automated library systems in academic libraries across Ontario.

Margaret Beckman is perhaps best known for her contributions to library management and library planning. She lectured and acted as a consultant to library planners in academic, government and public libraries throughout Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Sweden. She also helped to design the McLauglin Library at the University of Guelph in the 1960s and has been employed as a library planning consultant since retiring from her academic position in 1984.

More recently, she represented Canada at a number of UNESCO Library Buildings' Conferences and taught at the School of Library and Information Science, University of Western Ontario with her business partner, Stephen Langmead. Also, at that University, she endowed the Margaret Beckman Gold Medal in Library and Information Science, which is awarded to the graduate of the MLIS Program with the highest academic standing.

She has served as President of the Advisory Board on Scientific and Technological Information for the National Research Council of Canada, Chair for two years of the Waterloo Public Library Board and Chair of the Ontario Council of University Libraries and the Canadian Association of College and University Libraries. She holds honorary doctorates from Laurentian University and the University of Western Ontario. In 1975, International Women's Year, Margaret Beckman was recognized as one of 25 outstanding women in Ontario.


Beckman, Margaret ; Logan, Robert ; Porter, Larry. — Online circulation : University of Guelph Library : report describing design requirements and philosophy record structure, system functions and features, hardware/software capabilities, and implementation — Guelph, Ont. : University of Guelph Library, c1978. — 58 p. — (University of Guelph Library Report ; no. 8)

Beckman, Margaret ; Langmead, Stephen. — New library design : guide lines to planning academic library buildings. — Toronto : John Wiley and Sons, c1970. — 117 p. — ISBN 0471517178

Beckman, Margaret ; Langmead, Stephen ; Black, John. — The best gift : a record of the Carnegie libraries in Ontario. Foreword by Susan Fish. — Toronto : Dundurn Press, 1984. — 192 p. — ISBN 0919670822