Friends of the Library
An Update From the Chair | April 2022
As Chair of the Friends of the Library, I am concerned that you may not always be fully aware of all the interesting and educational events that are going on at the McGill Library. So this will be my second semi-annual update, designed to bring you all up to date on what is happening at the Library this spring.
We are all aware of the many challenges facing our society – COVID-19, war in Ukraine, inflation, equity in Canada – but through it all, your Library has continued to operate, and very successfully.
Students are still being welcomed to and intensively using, all of the Library’s many facilities as we near the end of final exams. The Library tries to be even more sensitive to student needs when nerves are stressed – with attractive and useful facilities, longer opening hours (made possible thanks to student groups), de-stress activities, and digitization of materials, making them accessible virtually around the world. McGill has found that its achievements in this area have been particularly helpful during COVID and we are considered amongst the most advanced in this realm, with ready access to all the Library's collections.
The second highlight is the upcoming transfer of books not checked out for five to ten years or more to a new Collection Management Facility. What I find exciting, as a bit of a nerd, is the computerized system for book retrieval that is being installed – little robots will buzz around, finding the book quickly and moving it to the user within only a day or two. I am personally helping to acquire one of those robots – to be called Wally, after my nickname at McGill!
Thirdly, Fiat Lux, the reimagining and renovating of the McLennan-Redpath Library Complex, continues apace. More announcements on this project are expected soon – do watch out for them. It will be a spectacular, as well as a very functional space!
Those are only some of the Library highlights. I am so proud to be a Friend, and to be associated with what I personally believe to be a world-class operation with great and various facilities, an outstanding rare books collections, and, most importantly, supported by an outstanding, caring, and knowledgeable staff.
And I would be remiss not to mention what the Friends of the Library organization itself has been doing. We are working hard to update our website, so it is easier for you to find out all that is going on at the Library, and how you can best participate; reaching out to those McGill alumni located in the United States and around the world (with so much now virtual, libraries are truly world-wide institutions); and continuing our (currently virtual) lecture series with the Hugh MacLennan Lecture on Wednesday, May 4 with Rosemary Sullivan, the well-known, award-winning Canadian author. I hope to see you there.
Stay safe and please do check out our website and events calendar to see all that is on offer for your education and enjoyment.
Chair, Friends of the McGill Library
My name is Donald Walcot and I am very privileged to be this year’s Chair of the Friends of the McGill Library, a wonderful organization that I have had a long affiliation with.
The mission of the Friends is to support a truly world-class Library – its ROAAr specialized collections, including Rare Books, the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill Visual Arts Collection, and McGill Archives – is one of the very best in North America. And the Library’s digitizing technologies are truly cutting-edge, making collections available worldwide. With the design of a new technologically-advanced library building on the horizon under the Fiat Lux project, the McGill Library is poised to meet the work, access, space, and collection needs of 21st-century students. It is a privilege to be part of this pivotal moment.
Over the years, I have seen the evolution of a range of fun and impactful projects, from encouraging student employment at the Library and providing specialized books as teaching tools for professors to adding comfortable chairs for library users. (My appreciation of the latter stems directly from the fact that, as a general B.A., I spent a lot of time in the lower level of the library, sitting on old ratty chairs, longing for a more comfortable seat in which to read the assigned books of the introductory English course).
As Friends, we are able to share in the Library’s vision while supporting its many existing programmes and bringing in intellectual heft and discovery with our three annual lectures – the MacLennan Lecture, F.R. Scott Lecture, and Shakespeare Lecture.
It is a real pleasure being a Friend of our extraordinary Library. I encourage you to take advantage of the many Friends activities – and keep up with exciting developments around the Fiat Lux project. Fiat Lux will be the true capstone for the whole Library system, and for McGill itself.
I look forward to seeing you – virtually or in-person.
Until then, stay safe,
Chair, Friends of the McGill Library
The Friends of the Library is a volunteer organization of McGill Library advocates. We raise awareness about the McGill Library’s extraordinary resources and we raise funds to provide tangible support.
Our Friends are McGill alumni, students, staff and faculty as well as a host of other Library and McGill enthusiasts from around North America.
The Friends host numerous lectures and special events over the course of the academic year. Please visit our Events page for a listing and to RSVP.