About the Humanities and Social Sciences Library

Located in the McLennan and Redpath Library Buildings, the Humanities and Social Sciences Library (HSSL) is the largest of the library branches at McGill. The Library supports the teaching, learning and research activities of staff and students in the Faculty of Arts, the Desautels Faculty of Management, the Faculty of Education, the School of Religious Studies, and the School of Social Work. The Library is a valuable resource for the broader McGill community and visiting scholars and researchers, and welcomes all members of the public.

The McLennan-Redpath complex houses several library collections and services. In addition to the extensive Humanities and Social Sciences collection, these include the Rare Books and Special Collections Division and the Blackader-Lauterman Collection of Architecture and Art. A cyberthèque containing computers and attractive learning spaces is located on the lower floor of the Redpath Library Building.

The central Interlibrary Loan Service, which obtains journal articles, books, and other scholarly materials not held by the McGill Library, is housed in the McLennan Library Building.


Study areas

For information about the different study areas in HSSL, see Study areas.



For information about the layout and location of collections and services in HSSL, see Floorplans.




The library collections date from 1855. Redpath Library—now Redpath Hall—was donated by Peter Redpath and opened in 1893, with extensions built in 1900, 1922 and 1953. It was the first building constructed to house the main university library collection. Read more about th history of the building on the Virtual McGill site.


The McLennan Library Building (benefactor Isabella McLennan) was opened in 1969 and the Redpath Library was renovated to include the Undergraduate Library. In 1988 the Undergraduate Library was amalgamated with the McLennan Library to form the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, with a view to rationalizing collections and services.

The 1990's

In 1991, the Social Work collection was merged into the Humanities and Social Sciences Library collection when the Nursing & Social Work Library was disbanded.

In 1994, the bulk of the Library and Information Studies Library collection was merged into the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, with some children's materials relocated to the Education Library.

In 1996, religious studies research materials, serials and reference works were transferred to the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, leaving a 20, 000 volume undergraduate teaching collection in the Birks Reading Room.

Collection description

The library has notable collections in Canadian Studies, English and American Literature, British History, Russian and East European Studies, and World War II.

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