Opened in 1998, the Nahum Gelber Law Library is a state-of-the-art facility with a collection of over 220 000 volumes of statutes, regulations, law reports, treatises, books, journals and other legal material.
The Library provides resources and services to support primarily the teaching and research programs of the Faculty of Law and several Institutes and Research Centres. In addition to Canadian law, the collection has a special emphasis on Air and Space Law, Comparative Law, International Law, Conflict of Laws, Continental Private Law, Human Rights, Environmental and Medical Law. It also has legal materials from other jurisdictions such as Great Britain, France and the United States.
The Reference collection on the ground floor of the library contains finding aids, such as general and specialized dictionaries, directories, bibliographies, and indexes to legal periodicals. These materials do not circulate.
Canadian Law: Canadian statutes and regulations for Canada, the provinces, and the territories are shelved in the Statutes section on the 3rd floor. The jurisdictions are arranged as follows: Canadian federal, followed by the provinces in alphabetical order.
Canadian Law Reports
General (non subject specific) case reports for Canada, the provinces and the territories are shelved in the basement. Jurisdictions are arranged as follows: Canada federal, followed by the provinces in alphabetical order, and finally the regional reporters. Within each jurisdiction, the reports are arranged alphabetically by title. All other reports are shelved by call number in the regular collection.
John P. Humphrey United Nations Collection
The John P. Humphrey United Nations Collection, housed on the 2nd floor with the sublocation JHHR, is devoted to monographs and other material on the United Nations with a special emphasis on the international law of human rights. The collection includes original UN documents on human rights (1946-1966) donated by the late Professor Humphrey on his retirement from the UN. Current material is purchased from Humphrey's generous bequest to the Nahum Gelber Law Library for this purpose.
- Early Canadian, British, and American titles are housed in the Peter M. Laing Special Collections Room on the 2nd floor of the Nahum Gelber Law Library.
- This special collection of French Civil Law material, primarily the work of early French jurists on general Civil Law before the Codification of 1804, is located in the Peter M. Laing Special Collections Room on the 2nd floor of the Nahum Gelber Law Library. The nucleus of the Wainwright collection was the personal library of the French legal historian François Olivier-Martin (1879-1952), acquired with funds bequeathed by Professor Arnold Wainwright Q.C. who taught Civil Law at McGill for over 25 years. An essay, Sources of Civil Law: the Wainwright Collection by M.L. Renshawe and J.E.C. Brierley, that was published in the Fontanus in 1988 examines briefly the scope and importance of the collection and relates how the core collection was acquired from Olivier-Martin for the McGill Faculty of Law through the generosity of the late Mr. Arnold Wainwright, Q. C. The Wainwright Committee also gives an annual grant from the Wainwright Trust to the Library for the purchase of non-Quebec civil law materials. More information about the Wainwright Trust and its contributions to the library can be found at the webpage of the Trust.
The Hon. Robert Mackay Collection
- Judge Robert MacKay (1816-1888) donated his private collection of books to McGill. Over the past few years these works have been identified and are now housed in the Peter M. Lang Special Collections room of the Nahum Gelber Law Library. An artcle, Judge Robert Mackay's 1882 Catalogue of Books: a Preliminary Analysis by P.F. McNally and Christina M. Boyle, published in Fontanus in 1998, discusses the non-legal part of this collection.