McGill University Library

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McGill University Library
McGill University Library Cybertheque.jpg
Country Canada
Type Academic library
Location Montreal, Quebec
Branches 13
Size 6 million items
Other information
Budget C$33 million (annual)
Staff 235

McGill University Library is the library system of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It comprises 13 branch libraries, located on the downtown Montreal and Macdonald campuses, holding over 6 million items.[1] It is the fourth-largest research intensive academic library in Canada[2] and received an A- from the 2011 Globe and Mail University Report, the highest grade awarded to the library of a large university.[3]


Humanities and Social Sciences Library

The largest of the branch libraries is the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, which is housed in the McLennan and Redpath Library Buildings.[4] The Humanities and Social Sciences Library has notable collections in Canadian Studies, English and American Literature, British History, Russian and East European Studies, and World War II.

The Library's Rare Books and Special Collections contains holdings on a variety of subjects, including art and architecture, Canadiana, history, literature, the history of ideas, travel and exploration, and the history of the book.[5] The Lawrence Lande Collection of Canadiana consists of 12,000 items, including books, pamphlets, maps, prints, periodicals, government documents, and broadsides.[6][7]

The Osler Library of the History of Medicine, in the McIntyre Medical Building, is Canada's foremost scholarly resource in the history of medicine, and one of the most important libraries of its type in North America.[8] As of 2011, the Humanities and Social Sciences Library and the Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering are open 24/7 in most cases during the academic semester.

The Islamic Studies Library, located in Morrice Hall with the McGill University Institute of Islamic Studies that prepares graduate students for M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, is one of the largest collections of its kind in Canada.

The McGill University Library’s Cyberthèque – a large-scale, multi-purpose information facility – opened its doors to McGill students in 2008. Located in the Redpath Library Building at street level, the “experiential” Cyberthèque blends a diverse range of studying and learning spaces for groups and individuals, various technology and multi-media installations, and timely assistance in accessing and using information. This unique facility was designed by Montréal architect François Emond and his team at ékm architecture together with Douglas Birkenshaw, and his team at Bregmann + Hamann from Toronto.

Branch libraries[edit]

See map of branch libraries.

Partnerships and collaboration[edit]

The Library is a member of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries,[9] the Association of Research Libraries (ARL),[10] and the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec (CREPUQ),[11] as well as other cooperative groups. The Library is a contributor to the Open Content Alliance


As of 2010, one of the Library's major projects involves digitization of books in the public domain.[12][13]In 2013 the McGill library became the second non-US based partner institution with HathiTrust digital library[14] and plans on making their digitized collections available through this repository. The library regularly contributes unique digitized public domain from their collections to the Internet Archive.


From 1862 to 1893 the library was located in the west wing of the Arts Building (Molson Hall), where the collection slowly expanded. In 1893 the Redpath Library opened in what is now Redpath Hall. At the same time, the first full-time University Librarian, Charles H. Gould (1893-1919) was appointed. Under Gould and Gerhard Lomer (1920-1947) both the collection and staff expanded. By the 1920s and 1930s the central library's lack of space meant that there was more departmental and area libraries being established.

In 1952 a large addition to Redpath Hall was opened to the south and the east wall of the original building was enclosed. It was at this time the library reading room was moved over what is now known at the Redpath library building and the Hall became a music hall.[15] It was during this time that the University Librarian became primarily responsible for this main library collection that covered the humanities and social sciences discipline. Area libraries in Medicine, Law, Engineering, Physical Sciences, Divinity, Nursing and other disciplines were still largely independent. In 1969, McLennan Library (Humanities and Social Sciences) opened, and Senate set up a University Libraries Commission whose Report (1971) recommended reorganization and greater coordination in the administration of the library systems. [16]


  1. ^ General Information, McGill Library Archived May 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ ARL Statistics, 2007-2008
  3. ^ 2011 Globe and Mail Canadian University Report
  4. ^ About the Humanities and Social Sciences Library
  5. ^ About Rare Books and Special Collections
  6. ^ Celebrating Research: Lawrence Lande Collection of Canadiana
  7. ^ McGill Library - Lawrence Lande Collection of Canadiana
  8. ^ About the Osler Library
  9. ^ CARL Members
  10. ^ ARL Members
  11. ^ CREPUQ Official website
  12. ^ McGill University To Scan and Make Library Materials Available Online - Library Journal
  13. ^ McGill U Library Scanning Rare Books with Kirtas - Campus Technology
  14. ^ Hafner, Joseph. "HathiTrust at McGill University Library: Content – Copyright – Canadian perspective". Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "Redpath Hall & LIbrary". Virtual McGill. McGill University Library. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  16. ^ "R.G. 40: LIBRARIES". A Guide to Archival Resources at McGill University. Volume 1. McGill University Archives. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 

External links[edit]