By 1917 the CFLB was poised to play a larger role in the lives of Canadians with vision loss. It was already more than a lending library, offering training in embossed print and typewriting, supplying instruments of communication at cost, and even providing employment services. The CFLB’s new location at 142 College Street had space for training and rehabilitation and offered a meeting place for returning soldiers who had been blinded overseas.
Wartime charitable activities had improved fundraising efforts, with the Women's Musical Club of Toronto, the Teachers' Franchise League, the Blind Aid Committee of the War Relief Fund, and the Barrie Soldiers' Aid all contributing cash donations to the Library. The CFLB even had a new name: the Canadian National Library for the Blind (CNLB).
This confluence of interests and resources focused the Library board’s attention on the broader needs of Canadians with vision loss, both civilian and war-injured. CNLB Librarian Sherman Swift wrote in his 1917 annual secretary report, "A desire is now apparent to create an organization of a truly national character, whose duty it shall be to co-ordinate effort, to prevent overlapping, to conserve energy, to make possible the free exchange of ideas, to secure necessary legislation, and to collect money for the assistance of the cause in all parts of the Dominion."
The individuals who became known as the founders of the CNIB were all on the governing board of the Library. They spent a year planning, drafting a constitution, and consulting the various related organizations that existed across Canada. On March 30, 1918, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind formally incorporated. Eight months later, the Library became the CNIB’s Library and Publishing Department, “its own child” in Swift’s words. All members of the Library at the time, about 600 people, automatically became CNIB members.