A period of unification & reorganization

As McGill grows, so does the Library. Redpath Library provides students with an inspirational environment, collections expand to include research holdings and re-cataloguing and re-classifying activities drive progress.

By May 1965, the total library collection has reached 961,000 items.


The Islamic Studies Institute and the Islamic Studies Library moves to the 9th floor of the newly opened Leacock building.

Sidney Dawes donates more than 60 paintings to McGill in the hopes that the University can create a museum of Canadian art. Many of the paintings are put on view in the Redpath Library. A Visual Arts Committee is founded to oversee the collection.

McGill Archives, PR037991


The office of the Director of University Libraries is created in 1964.  John Archer is the first person to hold the position.

Report of the Director of University Libraries 1964-1965, page 3


The Music Library is established as a faculty library and joins the McGill University Library System.


The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is founded, although the library began collecting rare material in the mid-19th century.

The Faculty of Medicine, along with the Medical Library and the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, move to the new McIntyre Medical Sciences Building. Percy Nobb’s classical Osler Library is dismantled in the Strathcona Building and reconstructed within the modernist McIntyre.

Dr. Lawrence Lande (1906-1998) donates a collection of 2,300 rare Canadiana items to the newly-formed Rare Books and Special Collections department. The bibliography of the collection becomes an important reference work on the subject. This collection is supplemented by several additional purchases and donations from Dr. Lande made over the next 10 years.

McGill Archives, PR019622018

The library has 173 staff members, of which 61 are professionals and 112 non-professional.

McGill Archives, PR002380

The special Lyman Collection is added to the Entomology Collection at the Macdonald Campus Library.

McGill Archives, PR037015020


A new open-door policy is implemented whereby any student can use any library they choose.

I picture of a poster containing people indoors
Old McGill Yearbook, 1975


Presbyterian College merges with the Faculty of Divinity. The College library becomes affiliated with the Divinity Hall Library (now the Birks Reading Room).

The McGill University Archives acquires the personal papers of Sirs William and George Dawson (Dawson-Harrington Family Fonds).

Kootenay Pass, British Columbia. George Mercer Dawson. 1882? McGill Archives. Dawson-Harrington families fonds, ACC 2624001

McLennan Library Building opens.  Thanks to a generous estate gift from Isabella McLennan (1870-1960), the University was able to build a new central library.  The building is made from reinforced concrete to support the weight of books and the possibility of two extra floors (never added). Fifteen hundred more seats are added to the 500 in the Redpath Library. The next year, the Redpath Library is gutted to increase seating. The McLennan Library is reserved for graduate students while Redpath becomes the undergraduate library.

McLennan Library Building (right), McGill Archives, PR034259


The Divinity Hall Library is renamed the Religious Studies Library.

The new Education Library goes into full operation in the Education Building. That same year, the Edward Rosenthall Mathematics and Statistics Library opens.


McGill has 24 official libraries, 19 significant collections, and 54 other small collections.  Official libraries include many Faculty, School, and Departmental libraries which were later merged, such as: Dentistry; Engineering; Mathematics; Management; Library Science; and Social Work. Other significant collections are usually based in departments, for example: Anatomy and Histology; Meteorology; Physical Education; and the French Canada Studies Programme. Small collections includes reading rooms in departments and student residences which spend less than $300 a year on staff or collections. With the advent of online resources, the number of physical libraries will decline drastically.


Keith Crouch is named Director of Libraries.

photo of man in library
McGill Archives, PR024725

The McGill University Archives’ offices move from the James Administration Building to McLennan Library Building.


Richard Farley is named the Director of Libraries.


The McGill University Archives launches the Micrographic Services Lab, which microfilms and stores the records of university administrative units, departments and faculties.  The service ended circa 1984.

Law Library moves to three floors of the newly-built New Chancellor Day Hall.

window exterior of a building
McGill Archives, PS005010.01


The Islamic Studies Library holds 70,000 volumes and adds 10,000 more over the next decade.

McGill Library extends its operating hours to 11:30 p.m. following student demonstrations and surveys.

Old McGill Yearbook, 1965


The John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection (CAC) is established. This collection documents the work of architects associated with McGill University over time.

image of a person sitting in desk
McGill Archives, PR036632


The Mossman Collection on the History of Science and of Ideas is donated to the Library, along with an endowment to continue developing it. The collection was initially the personal library of Drs. Donald and Dorothea Mossman.


The East Asian Studies Library opens.


Marianne Scott is the first female Director of Libraries.  She would go on to be the National Librarian of Canada.

McGill Archives, PR032077


The McGill Library now holds 2 million volumes.

Old McGill Yearbook, 1979


The Osler Library of the History of Medicine celebrates its 50th anniversary.

image of portraits
Osler Newsletter, 1979


The Macdonald Library moves to McGill’s Barton building on Macdonald Campus.

image of a building exterior
McGill Archives, PU044515010


Late Professor Marvin Duchow’s family donates his collection to the Music Library. It consists of his manuscript compositions and correspondence, as well as teaching materials compiled over the course of his long career.

Portrait of a man
McGill Archives, PR002088


The McGill Library receives the Rodolphe Joubert Collection on French Canada, which contains 3,000 volumes.


The Nursing and Social Work Libraries merge to form the Nursing-Social Work Library in Wilson Hall.

McGill Archives, PS034634

The Physical Sciences and Engineering collections are consolidated under the Macdonald-Stewart Library, including the Baillie Chemistry Library and the Mossman Collection.

McGill Archives, PR000627


Dr. Donald Mossman establishes two named lectures in the History of Science and Ideas, in honour of his two great friends at McGill, D. Lorne Gales and Elizabeth B. McNab.

Mossman Lecture given by Professor Philip Kitcher. March 22, 2018.


Renovations to Morrice Hall begin for the Institute of Islamic Studies (IIS), the Islamic Studies Library (ISL), and the English Department’s Tuesday Night Café Theatre (TNC).


McGill University Archives begins a Records Management Program for the University’s administrative records.


Hans Möller is the Director of Libraries.

Credit: McGill News


Eric Ormsby is the Director of Libraries.