In 1896, what was to be known as the RC Laird Library began as a small collection of books donated by the six founding doctors of Toronto Western Hospital. It was put in charge of Dr. Leha A. Davis, one of Canada's first women doctors, who proved to be a distinguished curator.
At first housed in the Medical Records Department, the collection was taken over in 1946 by Dr. WR Feasby, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, who developed and organized it further. It was kept in Dr. Feasby's office until 1953, when medical staff decided to allot it a room of its own. In addition to departmental texts it now included the hospital's subscriptions to journals. A few years later, in 1961, the library moved to an independent location, and its first librarian was appointed.
In April 1979, the library was named the RC Laird Library in honour of Dr. Robert Laird, former surgeon-in-chief at Toronto Western Hospital from 1946-1966. It was a popular choice. Dr. Laird was much respected and admired for his great dedication to medicine, and his genuine care and concern for his patients. The hospital's Department of Surgery gave $10,000 to the library at the time of its dedication to him.
Born in Brockville, ON, and a graduate of the University of Toronto, Dr. Laird served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, treating many of the pilots who were injured overseas. After twenty years of service to Toronto Western Hospital, he continued his work as chief-of-staff at York-Finch Hospital until his retirement 1972, then devoted the rest of his life to developing medical care in Nigeria, where he established a medical school. Dr. Laird died in December 1990.