Multilingual guide to Library services: English

Tours and workshops

Check out tours and workshops including those in languages other than English

This webpage is designed to give international students a brief introduction to basic services and resources offered by McGill Library.

Academic libraries in Canada may be different from those in other countries, but our friendly staff is available to help you use the library's resources and services. You are welcome to ask us questions at any time, in person, by e-mail, phone, or online chat. You can also consult a list of videos that provide you a quick guide to the essential services at McGill Library.

Finding items in the Library

You can find printed books and journals on the shelves in the library. They are arranged according to the Library of Congress classification system, consisting of letters and numbers. The call number is on the spine of each book.  You will find the call number for each book using the library catalogue.

How do I locate books in the library?

Step 1: Open the library home page and search the title in the search box of the library catalogue.

Step 2: In the search results, if you see the ebook symbol, you can click on “View now” and access the book online.If you do not see the ebook symbol, click on the availability link to see if the book is available for borrowing and where it is located.

Step 3: If the book says “On the shelf”, take note of the library branch location and the call number.

Step 4: Check the branch library’s website to find the opening hours and location.

Step 5: In the larger library branches, you will find a list by the elevator indicating the call number ranges for each floor. Each floor has a detailed map showing you the shelf arrangement.

Step 6: Find the aisle where your book is located. Find the call numbers along the shelf and take the book. Here are some pointers on how to read a call number. If you need help, ask us.

Here is a short video on how to find a book in the library.

If you are not in a hurry, instead you can Request items for pick-up. You can make your reservation online, place a hold request, and select the pick-up location from among McGill Library branches. Library staff will locate the item for you and notify you by email once it is available. It will take approximately 2 business days.

How do I request scanned copies?

The library also offers the Article/chapter scan service. You may request scanned copies of journals articles and book chapters from the library’s print collections. They will be sent to your McGill email. See instructions here or watch this video.

How do I find course reserves?

Course reserves are books and materials that your instructor has placed on reserve at the library. They cannot be found on the shelves. Just search here, write down the call number of the item, and ask for it at the Loans desk of the library where it is located.  See instructions in this video.

How do I obtain materials not owned by McGill Library?

The Interlibrary Loan service (ILL) allows you to borrow books, journals articles, and conference papers that are not part of McGill Library’s collection. This service is offered exclusively to McGill professors, current students, and staff as part of their teaching, learning, research, and work activities at McGill University. Requesting a document via interlibrary loan is done through Colombo, an online system used at all Québec universities. Log in to Colombo to submit an ILL request. Here are the instructions on ILL or watch this video.

Your Library account

Your barcode can be found on your McGill ID card. Your default password is your birthday. You can change your password to a different numerical password once you sign in. After you sign into your library account, you can view your loans, check your due dates, renew items, and check to see if you have any fines. Here is a very brief video showing how to use your library account

Your librarian

Sometimes you won’t be able to find what you need through the library website or through other resources. If that’s the case, it would be best to consult one of the many librarians, depending on what you need.

If you have a quick question about any of the library services, you can get your question answered through the online chat service provided on the library website, or by contacting the library services desk, either by phone or email.

If the question is more specific to your discipline, you can consult the designated liaison librarian for your department. Liaison librarians are subject-specific research experts who will help you find what you are looking for. A list of all the liaison librarians can be found here.

Accessing Library resources from off campus


EZproxy is a quick, easy, and convenient method to gain off-campus access to McGill Library subscription databases and other online resources, but requires you to log in before you can access the resource. Unlike the Virtual Private Network (VPN), EZproxy requires no prior computer or browser set-up. All you need to do is to login using your McGill username and password when prompted.

See also: EZproxy FAQ

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

McGill's Virtual Private Network (VPN) service gives McGill students, faculty, and staff access to all the library’s e-resources from home or off New draftcampus. You need to install and configure VPN on your personal computer or device before you can use it. However, once it has been set up, the VPN network can be accessed easily.

IT help for setting up your VPN connection can be found here or by contacting the IT service desk.

Library resources

Subject guides

Subject guides are available for every discipline and are useful tools for starting your library research. McGill Library offers a wide range of guides with resources and advice on how to find what you are looking for.

Library vocabulary

It can be difficult to understand the special terms used to describe a library and its collection and services. If you are uncertain about any of the words on the library website, please ask us, or consult one of these glossaries:

o   Multilingual Glossary for Today's Library Users (Association of College and Research Libraries)

o   Library Terminology: A Guide for International Students (Rutgers University Libraries)

Newspapers from home

The Library has hundreds of newspapers from all around the world, in print and online.

PressDisplay provides instant access to 4000+ newspapers from 100 countries in 60 languages, allowing you to read today’s paper from your country.
Factiva has news from 118 countries in 22 languages, including today's headlines under its News Pages tab.

Writing support

The McGill Writing Centre, through its many courses and workshops, is another helpful resource that can help you learn the essential writing skills, strategies, and techniques that you need to succeed at McGill.

Learn more about the McGill Writing Centre by visiting their webpage.

MWC Tutorial Service hours can also be found here.

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