With a mix of sadness and pride in the 50+-year tradition of the McGill Book Fair, and appreciation for the dedication of so many individuals over decades, we regret to announce that the Book Fair will not be held in 2023 or in the foreseeable future. Major renovations will soon take place in Redpath Hall, our home base since 1972, and the adjoining library. It is projected that from the end of May 2023, Redpath Hall will be closed and unavailable for at least three years.
In spring 2022, the Book Fair team (the Book Fairies) were eager to get back to receiving, sorting, cleaning, pricing, and packing donations of book, vinyl, and CDs after the two-year closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The appreciation of students and staff upon hearing the news of the Book Fair’s return after our “pandemic break” more than compensated for the various complications we faced in trying to get things up and running. Happy as we all were to be “back in business”, however, the coordinators had decided to retire after the 2022 fair. We had already concluded that this might be the last sale. Based on experience, we realized that it would be difficult to find someone to take over the leadership.
Since our first sale in 1972, organized by the Women’s Alumnae Association and the Women’s Associates of McGill, the annual McGill Book Fair has grown to become a much-anticipated highlight of the fall term. The support of students, staff, and alumni has been an important part of the Books Fair’s growth. As well, the quality and variety of the books donated by members of the community at large led to the Book Fair becoming a regular stop for rare and second-hand book dealers, not only from Montreal, but throughout Quebec, Ontario, and the New England states.
For 50 years, the primary goal of the McGill Book Fair has been to raise money for student scholarships and bursaries. Since that first sale in 1972, through the hard work of hundreds of volunteers, donations to McGill Scholarships and Student Aid have totalled close to $1,948,000.
In 2009, in honour of her 30 years as Book Fair coordinator, we established the Jane B. Hood Bursary, designated for an English Literature student. This was followed in 2010 by two more bursaries: one for an undergraduate student and one for a student in the Schulich School of Music. These bursaries will serve as an ongoing legacy of the Book Fair.
Beyond the financial aid, the Book Fair has in recent years actively recycled books we can’t sell. It has been wonderful to see students, staff, and passers-by eagerly going through the free book bins on Tuesdays and Thursdays from April to mid-October. As well, Renaissance, various community groups and schools, both locally and internationally, have all benefitted from Book Fair donations. Everyone involved in the Book Fair is proud of our contribution to our community.
We thank everyone who has supported the McGill Book Fair over its long history. There are ongoing discussions underway to explore continued support for the initiative in coming years.
In the meantime, it is still possible to support students through other means, including donating online at the McGill Giving website.
To direct inquiries to the book fair, please call 514-398-8105 or contact us by bookfair.alumni [at] mcgill.ca (subject: Book%20fair%20inquiry) (Email) or on Facebook.
Anne Williams and Susan Woodruff, Coordinators