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Reginald Brian Land was born in Niagara Falls on 29 July, 1927. He attended Oakwood Collegiate before entering University College as an undergraduate in 1945 and received his BA honours in political science and economics in 1949. He was active in the Political Science Club and the International Relations Club, sports editor of the Undergrad in his third year and, through his four years at the U of T, a reporter for the Varsity. With fellow students in commerce, finance and political science, he played in the Little Vic Hockey League on the ice rink beside Victoria College.
After graduation, Land worked as a copy editor for the mail order division of Eaton’s, then entered library school, receiving his BLS in 1953 and his MLS in 1956. While there he gained practical experience in the Reference Library of the Toronto Public Library system (1953-1955) and as a cataloguer in the University library (1955-1956). For several years, beginning in 1954, he chaired the committee that reorganized the University of Toronto Library School Alumni Association. Following graduate school, he spent a year as head of the business and industry division of the Windsor (Ontario) Public Library, at the same time undertaking a project to index the Labour Gazette for the federal Department of Labour. He left Windsor for Montreal in November, 1957 to become associate editor of Canadian Business. His work here earned him an award for editorial writing in the field of business and finance. While in Montreal, he did further graduate work in political science at McGill.
In 1959 he joined the University of Toronto as an assistant librarian, and played a leading role in professional organizations. From 1961-1963 he served as president of the Institute of Professional Librarians of Ontario, and also was vice-president of the Ontario Library Association and a Council member of the Canadian Library Association.
Land continued to maintain his interest in politics and education, for in 1960 he re-entered graduate school as an MA student. The subject of his dissertation was the Toronto riding of Eglinton during the 1962 federal election that was published in 1965. Immediately following the 1963 election, he was given a year’s leave from the Library to serve as executive assistant to Walter Gordon during his tumultuous first year as finance minister in Lester Pearson’s minority government. In 1965, he conducted a poll analysis of the Davenport riding, covering the years 1952-1963, for Gordon. The next year he became an executive officer of the Davenport-Dovercourt Liberal Association, from which he was a delegate to the Liberal convention in 1968 that selected Pierre Elliott Trudeau as successor to Prime Minister Pearson.
When Walter Gordon began writing his memoirs, Pursuit of an ideal – Canadian independence, after he retired from politics in 1965, he turned for assistance to his former executive assistant. Land acted as an advisor and also wrote portions of the manuscript. The project was abandoned in 1969, although several drafts of the manuscript had been completed.
In February, 1964 Land’s appointment was announced as director of the School of Library Sciences at the University of Toronto in succession to Bertha Bassam. He left Ottawa in May and during his ten-years as director, remained active both in his profession and in the wider world. In the late 1960s he served as a building consultant to several Canadian and American universities. One of the highlights of his tenure as director occurred in 1972, when the School was upgraded to the Faculty of Library Science. In 1973 he stepped down as Dean and went on sabbatical leave, during which time he was appointed a part-time commissioner of the Canadian Radio-Television Commission.
He then returned to full-time teaching and an active involvement in professional activities. In 1978 he was appointed executive director of the Legislative Library, from which he retired in 1993. He remained a professor part-time at the Faculty of Library Science. His professional activities were many and varied. They included a 1983 trip with three other Canadian librarians to the People’s Republic of China. The next year, as president of the Association of Parliamentary Librarians in Canada, he was attended the group’s international conference in Brisbane.
He died at the age of 89 on November 26, 2016.