This structure was named in honour of Harriet (MacNairn) Irving (1899 – 1976), the spouse of K.C. Irving, a prominent industrialist from New Brunswick. The first floor underwent renovations in 1983, enhancing its information and reference retrieval capacities. In 1988, the interior was restructured to better position the stacks. The H. R. Stewart Exhibition Room was refurbished and completed in the fall of 2000. The ground floor renovation led to the creation of the John B. MacNair Learning Commons, which was inaugurated on May 25, 2009, and featured group study rooms, a new service desk, a cafe, and a research and technology help desk.
The primary library at UNB Fredericton is the Harriet Irving Library. The Beaverbrook Room, located on the fourth floor, houses many first-edition works donated by Lord Beaverbrook. The H.R. Stewart Room was named during the library’s official opening in 1967.
In September 1968, the Harriet Irving Library was the venue for student protests during the Strax Affair. The Nan Vesta Gregg Room was officially inaugurated on May 15, 1980. The Winslow Room, a part of the Archives & Special Collections Department, was officially opened on October 22, 1984, during the National Archives Week.
Portraits of Bliss Carman and Alden Nowlan were unveiled on May 15, 1968, and March 18, 2009, respectively. The library network includes the Engineering Library, Law Library, Science Library, and the Hans W. Klohn Commons at UNB Saint John.
Harriet Lila (MacNairn) Irving was born on July 12, 1899, in Galloway, Kent County. She married Kenneth Irving in Bouctouche in 1927, after which they relocated to Saint John to raise their three sons, James, Arthur, and John.
Harriet was known for her deep love for her family, her kindness, and her special interest in young people. Her contributions to her community and her genuine care for others were a testament to her character, as was her generous hospitality.
Harriet had a fondness for flowers and took great pleasure in gardening at her Mount Pleasant residence in Saint John. She was a passionate supporter of her home province, New Brunswick, its people, and its culture.
Harriet and her husband, Kenneth, were close friends of Lord Beaverbrook, sharing a strong mutual respect. Harriet was a member of the inaugural Board of Governors of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery when it opened in 1959. She held a particular affection for this gallery, and it would indeed be an honour for her to witness this gallery, a gift from her sons James, Arthur, and John Irving, being named after her.
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