Doris Eileen Lewis (née Pringle) was born in Toronto in 1911. She attended the University of Toronto, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1933, a Diploma in Library Science in 1934, and a Bachelor of Library Science degree in 1963.
With the exception of a two-year period (1934-1936) as a circulation librarian at the University of Toronto, Doris Lewis devoted her professional career to the University of Waterloo and its precursor, Waterloo College. She became a lecturer in library science at Waterloo College in 1949, and went on to serve as the head librarian of Waterloo College from 1951 to 1959.
In 1959, she joined the University of Waterloo as its first University Librarian, a post that she held until 1969. From 1969 until her retirement in 1976, Mrs. Lewis served as a collections development librarian.
After retiring from the University of Waterloo, Mrs. Lewis was appointed as a consultant to the book dealer, B.H. Blackwell Ltd. of Oxford. She was active in this capacity while continuing to enjoy her personal library, her country home and her garden until her death in 1985.
The University of Waterloo Library began as a collection of between four and six thousand volumes in science and engineering housed in a single classroom in Engineering 1, the first building on the new campus. Under the leadership of Doris Lewis, the Library's holdings grew to over a million volumes by 1975.
Throughout her career, Doris Lewis was at the forefront of academic library development in Canada. A key figure during the period of rapid expansion of universities during the 1960s, Doris Lewis prepared the original briefs and documentation for the construction of the University of Waterloo's Dana Porter Library. The excellence of her work in this regard led to an invitation from Trent University to act as consultant in the preparation of its library, and in 1969, Doris Lewis was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Trent University.
She served as president of the Canadian Association of University Libraries and was a founder of the Ontario Association of College and University Librarians. When the Committee of Presidents of the Universities of Ontario formed the Ontario Council of University Librarians, Doris Lewis was appointed the first chairman of the council.
In 1967, she became the first chairman of the Advisory Joint Council on the Coordination of University Library Research Facilities. She contributed to the preparation of library briefs to the Spinks Commission (the Commission to Study the Development of Graduate Programmes in Ontario Universities, 1966) and to the Bladen Commission (the Commission on the Financing of Higher Education, 1965).
Doris Lewis was a recipient of the Canadian Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), an award that honoured distinguished Canadians in a wide range of endeavours on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
In 1982, the University of Waterloo presented the University's 25th Anniversary Medal to Doris Lewis to acknowledge her vital contributions to the university during its formative years.
In recognition and appreciation of her outstanding contributions to the University of Waterloo, the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room, named in her honour, opened in 1976.