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Architecture collection policy

Liaison librarian

  • Jennifer [dot] Garland [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email) 514-398-4785

History of the Collection

The core of the architecture collection was formed with funds from the endowment in memory of Gordon Home Blackader (1885-1916), B. Arch. '06. By the time that the second edition of the catalogue of the collection was published in 1926, the initial 1500 volumes had increased to 5000. Works on European and American architectural history, theory and design have been traditionally emphasized in the development of the collection and form the most important part of the collection. Catalogues and descriptions of World Exhibitions form another interesting aspect. Rare editions of architectural treatises were contributed to the library by McGill faculty, benefactors and practicing architects. This extensive collection of treatises, dating from the 16th through 18th century, is among the premier university collections in Canada. The architecture material is primarily housed in the Blackader-Lauterman Collection, 3rd floor, Redpath Library Building. Rare material is housed in Rare Books and Special Collections, 4th Floor, McLennan Building.

The collection's monograph and serial collection is complemented by an archival collection of drawings, models and photographs of Canadian buildings, housed in the John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection (JBCAC). This forms an integral part of McGill Library's study and research facilities, with major fonds representing the work of architects Percy Nobbs, Ramsay Traquair, Edward and W.S. Maxwell, Arthur Erickson, Moshe Safdie, John Bland, John Schreiber and Norbert Schoenauer, among others. The JBCAC is located on the 4th floor of the Redpath Library Building.

Subscriptions to print and electronic journals support research in Architecture, Art History and Urban Planning. Among the subscriptions to electronic indexes and databases are: Avery Index of Architectural Periodicals; Oxford Art Online (includes Grove Art Online); EBSCO's Art Full Text and Art Retrospective; and Bibliography of the History of Art.  Several important image databases such as ArtStor; and Art Image Gallery (EBSCO) are subscribed to.

Several comprehensive McGill University web sites highlight aspects of the collection including: Industrial Architecture of Montreal; Montreal’s Hospital Architecture; EXPO 67: A Photographic Journey; The Canadian Architect and Builder (full-text searchable) and the Urban Plan Collection.  To support the teaching and research activities of the School of Architecture, the library has added course related pathfinders to its own website as well as numerous links to outside sites dealing with the study of art and architectural history.

Current Collection Development

Present collection development stresses European and North American architectural history, theory and design. In recent years, research interests have expanded to include Affordable Homes, Domestic Environments, Cultural Landscapes, and Minimum Cost Housing. Maintaining quality in the historically strong areas of the collection while responding to major changes in the School’s curriculum have remained both a challenge and a priority. The Architecture Liaison Librarian (also responsible for Art History) works closely with librarians serving related or over-lapping disciplines, especially Urban Planning, Civil Engineering, Classics, Anthropology and Law. (See Coordination & Collaboration, below)

When scholarly materials are published in multiple formats (print/electronic), the Library will usually acquire material in one format only to manage financial resources. Online access is preferred when it is determined to best meet the needs of the Library users. When other formats are considered to better meet the needs of users, then the superior format is purchased. The Library acquires print, microforms, and other non-digital formats when these are determined to best serve the needs of Faculty, staff, and students.

Academic Programs and Liaison

The McGill School of Architecture offers two professional degrees, B.Sc. (Arch.) and M.Arch., as well as a post-professional M.Arch. degree and a Ph.D. There are three areas of study in the post-professional M.Arch. program: Architectural History and Theory; Cultural Meditations & Technology; and Urban Design, and Housing.

Collection development is the responsibility of the Architecture Liaison Librarian in consultation with faculty.

Subject Levels of Collecting

Collection Levels Definition of the collection levels employed by McGill University Libraries.







NA200 - 209 Architectural History - General 3b 4
NA210 - 259 Ancient Architecture - Egyptian  3a  3b
NA260 - 340 Judean - Classical                             3a 3b
NA350 - 365    Mediaeval Architecture - Early Christian        4 4
NA370 - 379 Byzantine                                                                  4 4
NA380 - 389 Islamic                                                   2  3a
NA390 – 439 Romanesque                                       3b 3b
NA440 - 489 Gothic                                                    4  4
NA510 - 589 Renaissance Architecture               4 4
NA590 Baroque Architecture  3a  3a
NA600           Neoclassical Architecture             3a 3b
NA627 - 639 18th Century Architecture             4  4
NA642, 645 - 670 19th Century Architecture              3a 3b
NA642, 673 - 682 20th Century Architecture             3b  3b
NA1995 - 2460 Architecture as a profession (Including Education, Competitions, Exhibitions) 3a 3a
NA2500  Architectural Theory                   4  4
NA2695 - 2790  Architectural Drawing and Design      3b 4
NA2793, 105-109  Preservation/Restoration/Conservation 3a 3a
NA2835 - 4050 Architectural Details, Ornamental Structures 3 3
NA4100 - 7020 Building Types                         3a 3b
World Exhibitions (in conjunction with Rare Books) 4 4
NA7100 - 8480 Domestic Architecture                 3b 4
SB400 - 485 Landscape Architecture                3a 3a
DG Guidebooks                      2 2
F, FC City Histories 3a 3a
Canada 4 4
United States  3a  3b
Western Europe 3a 3b
Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe  3a  3a
South Asia 2 2
Latin America and the Caribbean  2  3b
Africa (Central, South, East and West) 2 3a
Middle East and North Africa (See also Islamic Studies Policy)  2 2
Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Oceana 2 2
East Asia  3b  3b
China and Korea 3a 3b
Japan  3  3a


Coordination and Cooperation

Audiovisual materials in the field of architecture, including DVDs, etc., are selected by the Architecture Liaison Librarian and housed and serviced in the Audiovisual Service of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library in the Redpath Building.

Rare Books and Special Collections Division: The Blackader Lauterman Rare Book collection is housed in Rare Book Division

Humanities and Social Sciences Reference Department is relied on for national and trade bibliography, general and national biography, general and national encyclopedias etc. although much of this material is now available in electronic format. Blackader Reference concentrates on specialized reference works in its fields, maintaining only a basic core collection of atlases, language dictionaries etc.

The Schulich Engineering Library has total responsibility for collecting literature on the actual construction of buildings, bridges, etc. as well as on the physical environment which is shared with the Walter Hitschfeld Environmental Earth Sciences and the Macdonald College and Blacker Wood Biology libraries according to each library's specializations. Blackader collects only those atlases which are specific to the field and relies on the Hitschfeld Library and McLennan Rare Books to serve its users' map and atlas needs.

The Humanities and Social Sciences Library is relied on for access to humanities and social sciences publications. Regular communication with the selectors for human geography, political science and sociology ensures that publications in these fields of special interest to architects are taken into account. Similarly the classics and anthropology bibliographers refer publications in their field of architectural interest to Blackader. The understanding is that Blackader purchases such material if it offers visual images and supports the architectural curriculum.

Descriptions of the Collection

Gordon Home Blackader Library. Catalogue of Books on Architecture and the Fine Arts in the Gordon Home Blackader Library of McGill University. Montreal, Dominion, 1922. (McGill University Publications Series VII. Library no.4).

Gordon Home Blackader Library. A Catalogue of Books on Art and Architecture in McGill University and the Gordon Home Blackader Library of Architecture. 2nd rev. ed. Montreal, McGill University Library, 1926.

Murray, Irena, "Resource Facilities. The Gordon Home Blackader Library of Architecture and Urban Planning," in McGill University. School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Prospectus, 107108. Montreal, McGill Schools of Architecture and Urban Planning, 1989.

Murray, Irena. "That Old Craze of Buying Books: The Edward and W.S. Maxwell Libraries at McGill." In The Architecture of Edward and W.S. Maxwell. Montreal: Museum of Fine Arts, 1991, pp39-42.

Campbell, Cindy and Jewel Lowenstein. Architects: a Guide to Biographical Sources. Chicago, Council of Planning Librarians, 1989 (CPL Bibliography, no. 233)





Revised 2012

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