About the Humanities and Social Sciences Library

Located in the McLennan and Redpath Library Buildings, the Humanities and Social Sciences Library (HSSL) is the largest of the library branches at McGill. The Library supports the teaching, learning and research activities of staff and students in the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Management, the Faculty of Religious Studies, the School of Social Work, and the Faculty of Education. The Library is a valuable resource for the broader McGill community and visiting scholars and researchers, and welcomes all members of the public.

The McLennan-Redpath complex houses several library collections and services. In addition to the extensive Humanities and Social Sciences collection, these include the Rare Books and Special Collections Division and the Blackader-Lauterman Collection of Architecture and Art. A cyberthèque containing computers and attractive learning spaces is located on the lower floor of the Redpath Library Building.

The central Interlibrary Loan Service, which obtains journal articles, books, and other scholarly materials not held by the McGill Library, is housed in the McLennan Library Building.


The entrance to the library is off McTavish Street.

The library may also be entered through the tunnel linking the Arts and Leacock Buildings and Redpath Museum (except during summer).

Layout by call number

Collections are classified according to the Library of Congress or L.C. classification system.

Several hundred pre-1970 books are classified according to the Cutter system.

The word folio in a call number indicates an oversized book shelved in special folio ranges on the appropriate floor.

  • M indicates the McLennan Library Building [Map]
  • R indicates the Redpath Library Building [Map]
Call number Subject area Floor
A General works M2
B Philosophy, Psychology, Religion M6
C General History & its auxiliary sciences M6
D-DE History & Topography (except Americas) M6
DF-DZ History & Topography (except Americas) M6
E American History M3
F Canadian History M3
G Geography, Anthropology M3
H Social Sciences (Economics, Sociology, etc.), Management M3
J Political Science M3
K Law M3
L Education M2
M-N Music, Art M3
P Language and Literature M5
Q Science M6
R Medicine M3
S Agriculture M6
T Technology M6
U-V Military and Naval Science M6
Z Bibliography M6
Humanities and Social Sciences Reference A-Z M1 (Main)
Audio-Visual A-Z M1 (Main)
Reserves A-Z M1 (Main)
Chinese, Japanese, Korean A-Z M2
Cutter A-Z R2
McLennan Storage A-Z MB (basement)

Request items in McLennan Storage at the Library Services Desk.

A New Books Display is located on McLennan 1st floor. New books may be borrowed at any time.


Layout by floor

  • McLennan Library Building
  • Redpath Library Building

McLennan Library Building

MB Basement
  • McLennan Storage (no access - ask at the Library Services Desk)

Reference, call numbers: A - Z

  • Library Services Desk
  • Course Reserves
  • Recently Received Books, A-Z
  • Recently Received Journals
  • Recently Received Newspapers
  • Administration, Dean of Libraries
  • Bridge to Redpath
  • Auto loan machines
  • Main Entrance

Call numbers: A

  • Education
  • Chinese, Japanese, Korean Collection
  • Government Information
  • Microforms
  • Newspaper Archives
  • Electronic Data Classroom

Call numbers: E, F, G, H, J, K, M, N, R

  • Prof Peter F. McNally, M3-53B, History of McGill Project
  • Rare Books & Special Collections

Call numbers: P


Call numbers: B, C, DF-DZ, L, Q, S, T, U, V, Z

Redpath Library Building

RB Basement
  • Redpath Basement Storage (Self Service). 
    • Closed storage as of 15 August 2016. Consultation of the collection is available upon request. Please ask at the Library Services Desk of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library (McLennan Library Building).
RS Street Level
  • Cyberthèque
  • Tunnel to Leacock Building
  • Cafeteria - Boulangerie Première Moisson
  • Bridge to McLennan
  • Photocopy room (Self-service) RM-17

Call numbers: Cutter A-Z (accessible only via RM)

  • Collections Services
  • Library Technology Services
  • Blackader-Lauterman Collection of Architecture and Art
  • Ramp to R4
  • Blackader-Lauterman Collection of Architecture and Art
  • Canadian Architecture Collection
  • Nobbs Room

Our history


The library collections date from 1855. Redpath Library—now Redpath Hall—was donated by Peter Redpath and opened in 1893, with extensions built in 1900, 1922 and 1953. It was the first building constructed to house the main university library collection. Read more about th history of the building on the Virtual McGill site.


The McLennan Library Building (benefactor Isabella McLennan) was opened in 1969 and the Redpath Library was renovated to include the Undergraduate Library. In 1988 the Undergraduate Library was amalgamated with the McLennan Library to form the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, with a view to rationalizing collections and services.

The 1990's

In 1991, the Social Work collection was merged into the Humanities and Social Sciences Library collection when the Nursing & Social Work Library was disbanded.

In 1994, the bulk of the Library and Information Studies Library collection was merged into the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, with some children's materials relocated to the Education Library.

In 1996, religious studies research materials, serials and reference works were transferred to the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, leaving a 20, 000 volume undergraduate teaching collection in the Birks Reading Room.

Collection description

The library has notable collections in Canadian Studies, English and American Literature, British History, Russian and East European Studies, and World War II.

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