Remembering David Sinclair (1942–1974)

The New World Journal of Alexander Graham Dunlop, 1845, edited by David Sinclair and Germaine Warkentin. 

Published by Dundurn Press, 1976. 

David Sinclair (born in Toronto in 1942) was a bibliographer, scholar, and librarian who was employed at E.J. Pratt Library, Victoria College (University of Toronto) between 1968 and 1973. He joined the library staff when Lorna Fraser, the chief librarian, appointed him to the position of a rare book and special collections librarian, to catalogue the library’s manuscript and rare books collections, and to make them accessible for consultation by scholars and other researchers. 

Sinclair’s comparatively short but accomplished career in academic librarianship exemplified the increasing importance of subject specialization of librarians to the institutional prestige of university libraries. His scholarly contributions to the library and Victoria College represent the type of academic professionalism that is evident in the work of many university librarians. 

Sinclair held a Bachelor of Library Science (a professional degree), as well as a Master of Arts degree in English literature (his graduate dissertation was a study of ). In addition to his daily responsibilities in the bibliographical services department of the library, which involved cataloging rare books and creating detailed finding aids for special collections, Sinclair also researched and published extensively, and taught several upper-year undergraduate courses at the College on Canadian literature. He was also the first Bibliographical Fellow of the Cenre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies and was responsible for organizing the Cenre’s rare books collection.  

Sinclair’s edited volume, Nineteenth-Century Canadian Poems was not widely reviewed after it was published, but Janet Friskney praised the quality of his editorial work on the poems by Isabella Vallancy Crawford, Oliver Goldsmith, and other Canadian poets who were not widely studied in the sixties. In New Canadian Library: The Ross–McClelland Years, 1952–1978, Friskney writes, 

A notable exception was David Sinclair... A brief comment in his introduction, as well as his notes on each text, provide a sense of Sinclair’s editorial effort. In his notes, the editor offered information about variant versions, indicated the source texts he had selected, and provided a rationale for emendations and corrections that were made to them. Influenced by the touchstone “authorial intention that animated the textual practices of his say, Sinclair sought out versions of the poems that were published during the author’s lifetimes

In 1972, he requested a leave and absence and relocated to London, England and begun postgraduate work in bibliography at the University of London. Sinclair died unexpectedly following a street accident in London. His manuscripts, photographs, and correspondence are gathered in the David Sinclair special collection. 

Library Treasures: Library ABC’s by Mary Mustard

Mary Mustard’s Library ABCs
Published in 1948 by Longmans, Green and Co.

In the course of my research on the history of women’s contributions to Canadian librarianship, I am sometimes fortunate to discover bibliographic treasures. The delightful, small book (which measures 13.5 inches by 20 inches) and has eighty-three pages, was published in 1946. The monograph is concise and to the point. It is intended for high school students and aims to demystify the library by familiarizing them with the arrangement of materials, the basics of the research process, and the proper handling of books and other printed materials. Judging from the order in which the chapters are organized, in Miss Mustard’s library, proper book handling took precedence over knowing how to use the venerable card catalogue. Miss Mustard did not allow her students to wonder the mysterious realm of the stacks unless they knew how to handle the books without destroying them.

Some parts of the book are undeniably outdated, but others are still relevant within the context of library instruction: the difference between a preface and an introduction in print sources, the importance of using an index, and the usefulness of reference sources.

The monograph is also an historical document that provides a glimpse into a high school library in Ontario in the late 1940s and describes the functions of the card catalogue, a once ubiquitous research tool, which is now fashionably regarded as an object of nostalgia rather than as an artifact within the historical context of women’s professional labour and library technology. By illustrating the organization of the catalogue in detail, Mustard demonstrates that maintaining it was quite labour intensive—each book need three separate cards that had to be typed, filed, and updated as needed: a title card, author card, and a subject card.  

Mary Mustard, the author (and a proud holder of a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Library Science degrees as indicated on the title page), was a school librarian at Brantford Collegiate Institute. She was a graduate of the University of Toronto Library School—she acknowledges the guidance that Professors Bertha Bassam (1896–1989) and Mary Silverthorn (1902–2001) provided to her in the writing of the book. Both women were instructors there. 

Mustard was a prolific school librarian. Her first book, A Short Course in Library Science, was published in 1938. In 1968, she jointly published, with Doris Fennell, a review of school library service across the Canadian provinces. Their findings, entitled “Libraries in Canadian Schools,” appeared in Librarianship in Canada, 1946 to 1967: Essays in Honour of Elizabeth Homer Morton. Mustard retired in.