Fiat Lux Project: Movement of Archives, Rare & Special Collections, and Visual Arts Collections

Updated January 5th, 2024

preliminary artist rendering of McLennan library lobby

Fiat Lux

The McGill Libraries are undertaking Fiat Lux, their most ambitious development project since the McLennan Library Building was built in the 1960s. This will have a significant impact on McGill’s rare and special collections. The teaching, processing, and storage facilities will be greatly improved. Find out more about the Fiat Lux Project on the Website.

We are developing plans to minimize disruption to research and teaching activities during the Fiat Lux project. The first step towards that project involves moving our collections to the Collections Centre.

Scope: Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC), the Canadian Architecture Collection (CAC), the McGill University Archives (MUA), and the Visual Arts Collection (VAC), but not the Osler Library.


Collection Preparation and Packing Period - Summer 2023-Winter 2024

  • RBSC and MUA staff are busy with preparing and moving the collections. Access to rare books and archives, and services such as reference consultations, class visits and events, will continue on a reduced basis.
    • Reference response times will be delayed.
    • The reading room will be accessed by appointment. Email rarebooks.library [at] to book a time.
    • All material must be requested in advance. See our Reading Room page for details on requesting materials.
  • Visual Arts Collection - There will be no change in procedures for the Visual Arts Collection. In preparation for the move, we are hoping to have more of the collection now in storage placed on view in campus locations.

    • Faculties units or individuals who would like to request art through the Campus Loan Program should still fill out the online form on the VAC website.
    • If art needs to be moved for a renovation, an office reorganization, or because an office has been reassigned, VAC staff should be contacted as soon as possible so the removal of art can be scheduled. Please e-mail vacollection [at] 
    • In case of an emergency that may impact art in a campus location, please contact McGill security at 514-398-3000 and the VAC director at gwendolyn.owens [at]
    • VAC interns will be continuing to survey the collection across the campus to confirm location and condition of works in the collection.

Moving Period - Dates to be confirmed in early 2024

  • Researchers planning to use materials during the moving period are asked to reserve items ahead of time so that they can be accessible during this phase.
  • While collections are moving, librarians and archivists will help to find alternative resources when possible. Digitization services may be available in certain cases. You can request digitization by emailing rarebooks.library [at]

Summer 2024 - Visual Arts Collection:

  • The VAC staff and collections are expected to move toward the end of the moving period. There will be a moratorium on new requests for a short period while the move is taking place.

Post-Move Period - dates to be confirmed in early 2024

  • Consulting Material: Once collections are moved offsite to the Collections centre, some can be requested and consulted in the reading room/s set up for the duration of the construction phase. Delivery times will be as quick as possible.
  • Reference, class visits, and tours will be accommodated as best as possible in available spaces.
  • Digitization services will continue on a modest scale.
  • Programming and exhibitions will continue on a modest scale.
  • VAC activities will resume as much as possible and as soon as possible after the move to a temporary location.

For more information, contact the ROAAr Reading Room at Rarebooks.library [at] or 514-398-4711





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