The McGill University Library and Archives is not a mere storeroom for books, but rather a pillar of the McGill community, serving as a place to work and a home away from home. It serves as the physical and virtual repository for generations of accumulated knowledge that sits at the centre of the teaching, research and learning enterprise that is the core of the McGill University’s mission. The Library plays a crucial role in providing the content, resources and services that cultivate curiosity, inspire ideas and stimulate research in the digital age.
It is now at a pivotal point in its history, sitting atop a cresting wave of technological revolution that has radically altered the long-accepted mandate of a library. To continue its central role in the University’s Academic Mission and ensure McGill continues to attract and retain the finest students from Quebec, Canada and around the world, the Library must physically transform its facilities to meet the evolving needs of the 21st century student.
The 2015 Feasibility Study generously supported by the Friends of the Library and spearheaded by dedicated McGill staff members and the EKM and Shepley Bulfinch architectural firms, allowed for a clear understanding of space needs and opportunities. The McGill community (staff, students, faculty and community members at large) were engaged throughout the effort, and in an outstanding gesture of support, this study received generous contributions from McGill’s Friends of the Library, for which I am extremely grateful.
This proposed vision strives to exceed the highest international standards, creating a building complex that will unite all faculties, firmly entrench the Library at the edge of a bold new frontier and establish McGill as a guiding light throughout the 21st century.
Trenholme Dean of Libraries
As McGill University approaches its 200th anniversary in 2021, we have used the information gathered from our Master Plan and Feasibility Study and developed a bold vision to transform the Library into a cutting-edge nexus for teaching, learning and research in the digital age.
The words inscribed above the entrance to an early library building, Fiat Lux: Let There Be Light, reflect the goal of this ambitious undertaking: to create a new Library complex that will accommodate evolving educational trends, proactively positioning it to meet the needs of current and future McGill students, faculty and researchers. Exciting advances in technology-based learning and pedagogy have radically altered the long-accepted mandate of the Library. The ambitious plans outlined on the following pages will create a vibrant Library space that is a vital centre of campus life: convenient, comfortable, safe and available, offering a wide array of virtual and on-site programming to support research and learning, including rapid access to print media.
The new Library complex will embrace McGill University’s rich past and integrate new and emerging technologies to address current space and service issues. Incorporating a rebuilt 1950s Redpath and renovated 1960s McLennan buildings, the modernized and expanded Library will be reconfigured to suit the study requirements of 21st century library users – nearly doubling the spaces for undergrads, graduate students and faculty to study, learn, research and succeed. The new complex will feature a light-filled atrium, an iconic reading room with views of Redpath Hall, the campus and Mount Royal, along with a multi-functional stepped-forum. A completely re-imagined Rare Books and Special Collections will be accessible to the McGill community. The new McGill Library will be at the forefront of pedagogical developments, with state-of-the-art learning spaces that foster creativity and collaboration, and establish the benchmark for other academic research libraries.