McGill Collection Management Facility (CMF)

A significant portion of the Library’s low use collection will be relocated off campus to a dedicated collection storage facility. This relocation will increase the available study and work space for the McGill community.

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The Library’s Space Challenge

McGill Libraries are severely overcrowded and facing a significant demand for user and programme space. Industry norms suggest public research university libraries of a similar size to McGill should provide seating for 15-25% of their student population. With its current infrastructure, McGill currently offers appropriate seating to 9% of the student population, far below its academic peers and is evidence of the current overcrowding in the Library. 51% of the Library’s system-wide space is dedicated to the physical collection.

The collection must be retained, properly housed, and carefully stewarded to meet the teaching and research needs of our faculty and students. We have a commitment to the global collective knowledge to protect and preserve the material we have collected for almost 200 years.

Because of the space challenges and the need to ensure our collections and programmes meet the needs of all our users, the Library is reallocating a portion of the Library’s low circulating collection off campus to a dedicated collection storage facility.

Approximately 1.6 million books will be kept on campus in our libraries. Since disciplines vary in their use of print material, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to deciding which books will physically remain in the Library. Library staff will continue to work with different users (i.e. faculty, researchers and students) to determine the makeup of the collection in their subject areas that will be retained on campus. Decisions will be informed by staff expertise, user feedback and empirical data. Feedback is welcome at all stages of this process.

Project Description

The 2015 Library Master Plan recommended that a portion of the Library collection be moved into a purpose-built, high-density and dedicated collection facility. In 2017, the decision was made to explore the development of a proposed $25 million dollar storage facility off campus. The state-of-the-art robotic Collection Management Facility will eventually hold 2.88 million volumes. Materials are housed in environmentally controlled and secure conditions. The new high-tech collection management facility will include spaces for conservation treatment and digitization. The project will be delivered via a design-build model (a developer will secure land and build structure to McGill’s specifications) and is expected to be built by the end of 2020. Ingestion of our material will follow.

Delivery from the collection management facility will be twice per day.

Timeline, scope of work and impact on users (subject to change)

Timeline Affected Areas Scope of Work Impact to Users
Spring 2019 McGill CMF Procurement process underway n/a
Fall 2019 McGill CMF Facility location confirmed & design developed n/a
January to

December 2020

McGill CMF

Facility built, equipment installed


October 2020 to May 2021

McGill Library branches Ingestion / processing of materials (offsite) Users will have limited access to certain materials and see increased traffic and noise in affected areas.
January to June 2021 McGill CMF Ingestion / processing of materials (onsite) Users will have limited access to certain materials and see increased traffic and noise in affected areas.

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