The Edward & Margaret Lyons Instructional Media Centre was formed in 2002 thanks to a donation from Edward and Margaret Lyons, both graduates of McMaster University. The Centre was an amalgamation of the McMaster University Video Library and the School of the Arts Slide Library, becoming home to a large collection of audio visual and electronic materials. In 2006, the Centre began collecting video games through a grant from the Refining Directions Fund. The collection included more than 2,000 videos, DVDs, and videodiscs, as well as 100,000 slides and digital images when it was transferred to Mills Memorial Library in 2009 in an effort to centralize Humanities research collections and gain access to the digitization labs and technologies.
The Video Library had been formed by merging collections of 16mm film, Laser Disc, VHS tapes and DVDs purchased by various departments in the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences. Classroom Audio Visual Services had stored these items and provided access for class screenings. The creation of the Centre provided greater student access to the films for private study and review – a function that was, and remains, of particular interest to both Edward and Margaret Lyons.
Mills Library continues to be an active member in Interfilm, a consortium of Ontario post-secondary institutions which allows the lending of films for class use between the twenty member institutions.
The slide and digital collections have their roots in the 1930s. The 1932 Carnegie Corporation grant to purchase books “for the undergraduates’ general reading needs” included a separate provision to develop a fine arts collection, resulting in the purchase of 200 books, 1500 prints, fabric samples and 500 facsimile colour collotypes.
In 1933 Lester D. Longman was appointed as Special Carnegie Lecturer in the history and appreciation of art, bringing with him an additional art collection, including 3 ¼ x 4 inch glass lantern slides. These collections were housed in an “art library”, a large room on the first floor of University Hall.
Longman offered extension courses in art history that were open to the general public in Convocation Hall. These lectures, attended by 400-500 people, could be used by McMaster undergraduates as credit toward their academic standing in other disciplines.
This developed into a Fine Arts Department (closed in 1942 – a casualty of the war effort). Although a degree in art history was not possible, McMaster graduates (including scholars such as John R. Martin, Robert H. Hubbard and Stephen Vickers) were successful in obtaining advanced standing in Fine Arts at the graduate level.
The department was resurrected, again as a service department, in 1951 with the appointment of Naomi Jackson (Groves) as Associate Professor.
The art collection was transferred to Mills Memorial Library when it opened in 1951, and later still to the Department of Fine Arts when Togo Salmon Hall opened in 1967.
The lantern slides, including Fratelli Alinari views of architecture and sculpture taken in the 19th century, were archived in the early 1980s.
Faculty in Art History and Classics also contributed 35mm slides taken on their travels. These original slides often depict unique views of a monument, taken to illustrate specific ideas in their lectures.