Mission & history


The mission of the School of Information Studies is the advancement of learning through education, scholarship, and service in library and information studies.

As a proud part of McGill University, the School's activities also support the McGill University Mission.


The School of Information Studies focuses upon the knowledge and skills necessary for identification, acquisition, organization, retrieval, and dissemination of information to meet people's needs in diversified information, knowledge, and learning environments.

The School aims to advance the dynamic field of library and information studies by:

  • Attracting excellent students and inspiring them to become future leaders in the information professions
  • Developing innovative, service-oriented information professionals for diverse environments
  • Producing research and publications that advance the theory and practice of the discipline
  • Promoting excellence in professional practice
  • Playing a leadership role in the information society in Quebec, Canada, and abroad


The School benefits from its position in Quebec and Canada in pursuit of the following goals:

  • Education: To design, implement and promote programs for academic and professional development
  • Scholarship: To encourage critical thinking and research to advance both theory and practice
  • Service: To serve academic, professional, and civic communities


As the pioneer school ‎of its kind in Canada, SIS has been offering programs at McGill since 1897. Our professional diplomas and degree programs, including the MISt, have been ‎continuously accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) since 1927. 


  • 1897: Apprenticeship-training program in librarianship offered in Redpath Library.
  • 1904: The first formal library education program in Canada is established at McGill University. The McGill Summer Library School is formally founded under the jurisdiction of the University Library Committee, offering education in library administration. It is one of the first university programs in librarianship anywhere in the world outside the United States. Instrumental in the founding of the School and the establishment of its curriculum, Melvyl Dewey, a good friend and colleague of Charles Gould, University Librarian and a founder of the School, teaches at the school during its first year.


  • 1904: With breaks, particularly during World War I, an annual summer course is given.
  • 1927: American Library Association (ALA) accredits the summer course as Type IV under its "Minimum Standards for Summer Courses in Library Science" (1926).

McGill Library Science Staff. (c.1928)(McGill Archives PR001269)

  • 1927: Sessional Diploma program is established, with the aid of a grant from the Carnegie Foundation. The entrance requirement is senior matriculation.
  • 1929: American Library Association (ALA) accredits the Diploma program in the Junior Undergraduate Category under its "Minimum Standards for Library Schools" (1925).
  • 1930: The Diploma program is transformed into Canada's first graduate Bachelor of Library Science (BLS) program, assisted financially by the Carnegie Corporation. The prerequisite for entry is a Bachelor's degree.
  • 1931: The BLS program is accredited under ALA's "Minimum Standards for Library Schools" (1925) Graduate School Category.
  • 1934: The BLS program is accredited under ALA's  "Minimum Standards for Library Schools" (1933) Type II Category.
  • 1940: The Carnegie grant ends and the University assumes full financial responsibility for the School. The School is placed under the jurisdiction of the Faculty of Arts and Science.

The McGill Library School held summer institutes in places such as Banff, Alberta. (1940) (McGill Archives PR009309)


  • 1956: A "Master of Library Science" (MLS) degree with thesis is offered under the jurisdiction of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Bachelor of Library Science is a prerequisite.
  • 1957: The BLS program is accredited by the ALA under its Standards of Accreditation (1951).
  • 1965: A 2-year Master of Library Science program without thesis is established, replacing the 1-year BLS and the thesis MLS. This program provides a new pattern for library education - one which has become the Canadian norm and has been adopted by many schools in the United States and other countries. The School changes its name to the Graduate School of Library Science and is placed entirely under the jurisdiction of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.
  • 1969: Library Science moves to modern facilities in the new McLennan Library Building after a long tenure in Redpath Library. The facilities are larger and more conducive to the coming "information age".
  • 1975: MLS program accredited under ALA's Standards of Accreditation (1972).
  • 1980: MLS program receives conditional accreditation for 2 years under ALA's Standards of Accreditation (1972).
  • 1981: MLS program is restored to full accreditation through 1987.
  • 1985: The name of the School is changed to Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS).


  • 1986: The master's degree is renamed "Master of Library and Information Studies" (MLIS).
  • 1987: MLIS program reaccredited under the ALA's Standards of Accreditation (1972).
  • 1991: PhD students accepted, under the ad hoc provisions of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Albert Tabah becomes GSLIS's first PhD graduate in 1996.
  • Albert Tabah, SIS's first Ph.D. graduate
    Albert Tabah, GSLIS's first Ph.D. graduate, receives congratulations from retired Professor Lorna Rees-Potter. (GSLIS Photograph)
    1994: The Library and Information Studies Library is closed. The collection is relocated to the 6th floor of the McLennan (Humanities and Social Sciences) Library building.
  • 1996: The post-MLIS Graduate Diploma in Library & Information Studies is introduced. The MLIS program is reaccredited under the ALA's Standards of Accreditation (1992). The Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research is dismantled and the School is placed under the administrative umbrella of the Faculty of Education.
  • 1998: Dr. J. Andrew Large, Director of the School, becomes the first holder, in Canada, of a named chair in Library and Information Studies - the "CN-Pratt-Grinstad Chair in Library and Information Studies." 


  • 2001: The post-MLIS Graduate Certificate in Library & Information Studies is introduced.
  • 2003: The MLIS program is reaccredited under the ALA's Standards of Accreditation (1992) for a 72nd continuous year, the longest in North America.  
  • 2004: The School and Canadian library education celebrate their 100th anniversary. 
  • 2005: The School begins to offer three "Areas of Specialization" within its MLIS program: (i) Archival Studies, (ii) Knowledge Management, and (iii) Librarianship.
  • 2007: The name of the School is changed to School of Information Studies (SIS).
  • 2009: The PhD in Information Studies program officially inaugurated. The School moves to its own building at 3661 Peel after 40 years in the McLennan Library Building. Read about the history of the building here (French).
  • 2010: The MLIS program is reaccredited under the ALA's Standards of Accreditation (2008).
  • 2014: The master's program receives a new designation: "Master of Information Studies" (MISt). The MISt program offers a research stream (non-thesis) and includes "Information and Communication Technology" as an additional area of interest. The School joins the Faculty of Arts. The School joins the "iSchools," an international organization of Information Schools.
  • 2015: Three new degrees are offered: "Master of Information Studies (non-thesis) - Project" with an expanded research focus, "Graduate Certificate in Digital Archives Management",  "Graduate Certificate in Information and Knowledge Management", and Graduate Certificate in Information Architecture and Design.
  • 2018: The MISt is reaccredited under the ALA's Standards of Accreditation.


  • 1904-1919: Charles H. Gould, BA (McGill) University Librarian
  • 1920-1948: Gerhard Lomer, BA, MA (McGill) PhD (Columbia) University Librarian
  • 1948-1949: Richard Pennington, BA (Birmingham) Dip Lib (London) University Librarian
  • 1949-1966: Vernon Ross, BA, MA (McGill) BS in LS (Columbia)
  • 1966-1970: Virginia E. Murray, BA, BLS (McGill) MA, EdD (Columbia)
  • 1970-1972: Violet Coughlin, BSc, BLS (McGill) MA, DLS (Columbia)
  • 1972-1976: Effie C. Astbury, BA, BLS (McGill) MLS (Toronto)
  • 1976-1981: Vivian S. Sessions, AB, MA (Michigan) MS in LS (Columbia)
  • 1981-1984: Hans Möller, PhD (Copenhagen)
  • 1984-1989: Helen Howard, BA (Queen`s) BLS, MLS (McGill) PhD (Rutgers)
  • 1989-1998: J. Andrew Large, BSc (London) PhD (Glasgow) Dip Lib (London)
  • 1996-1997 Acting: Diane Mittermeyer, BA, BLS (Montréal) MLS, PhD (Toronto)
  • 1998-2004: Jamshid Beheshti, BA (Simon Fraser) MLS, PhD (Western Ontario)
  • 2000-2001 Acting: Peter F. McNally, BA (Western Ontario) BLS, MLS, MA (McGill)
  • 2004-2005 Acting: France Bouthillier, BEd (UQAM) MBSI (Montréal) PhD (Toronto)
  • 2005-2015: France Bouthillier, BEd (UQAM) MBSI (Montréal) PhD (Toronto)
  • 2012 (6 mos) Acting: Kimiz Dalkir, BSc, MBA (McGill) PhD (Concordia)
  • 2015-2016 (7 mos) Interim: Kimiz Dalkir, BSc, MBA (McGill) PhD (Concordia)
  • 2016-2021: Kimiz Dalkir, BSc, MBA (McGill) PhD (Concordia)

Locations since 1927

  • 1927-1953: Redpath Library, basement
  • 1953-1966: Redpath Library, top floor
  • 1966-1969: Hallward Mansion, North-east corner, McGregor/Penfield Ave. and Mountain St.
  • 1969-2009: McLennan Library, street level
  • 2009-: 3661 Peel St., formerly Charlotte R. Harrisson House, also known as Macarow House, after her spouse Daniel Charles Macarow, director of the Merchants' Bank of Canada, Montreal. Read about the history of the building here (en français).

History timeline adapted from

McNally, P.  (2011).   McGill University School of Information Studies: A chronology.

Additional references

  • McNally, P.  (2004).  McGill University, Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. ELAN, Ex Libris Association Newsletter, Special Issue (Summer), p. 3-7.
  • McNally, P.  (1993).  Fanfares and celebrations, anniversaries in Canadian graduate education for Library and Information Studies.  The Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science, 18(1), p. 6-22. (Reprinted in Readings in Canadian Library History 2, 1996. p. 39-56).
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