Favourite library spaces

McLennan-Redpath Terrace

Newly renovated McLennan-Redpath Terrace.

Nahum Gelber Law Library

Studying by natural light in the Nahum Gelber Law Library. Click image for full view.

“During my studies in the Faculty of Law, my favourite place in the Library was the third floor of the Nahum Gelber Law Library. I purposefully chose one of the study carrels on the west side of the building, so I could benefit from the afternoon sunlight while reading endless cases and writing papers. Although it was a very quiet spot, I still used earplugs to fully block out any surrounding noises of papers shuffling and people whispering. During exam time, when the library filled to bursting, the third floor was reserved for law students and I could always get my spot if I arrived early enough.” Aryana Rousseau, BCL/LLB’09

Schulich Library

A room with a view from the Schulich Library of Science and Engineering. Click image for full view.

“My favourite place to study was the third floor of the Schulich Library of Science and Engineering. There were large window sills, where I could sit comfortably and look out over campus, while studying. It brought calm to the hectic atmosphere of exam period.” Emily Yee Clare, BA’12

Click here for full image

Redpath Hall, circa 1893. Click image for full view.

“When I was an undergraduate student in the early 1950s, there was only one main library and that was in what is today Redpath Hall. For me and most of my friends, it was the educational and social center of the university. This space, which is now used only for special occasions, has one of the most beautiful interior spaces, not only at McGill, but in the entire city.” H. Arnold Steinberg, C.M., O.Q., BCom’54, LLD’00, Chancellor, McGill University

“I remember reading in the light from the south-facing windows in the Redpath Library. The building itself was beautiful.” Mildred Maclean, BHS’32 (103 yrs old)

“My best library memories of my undergraduate years are of Redpath Hall, which was then the main library. I remember the green desk lamps and that, because the undergraduate numbers were small, I knew practically everyone. During my graduate years, my very own carrel in a quiet corner was heaven, and a far cry from a house with three teenagers in it.” Helen Kahn, BA’55, MA’76

Rare Books & Special Collections

An early reader points to and comments on passages in a sixteenth century printing of Speculum vite humane, by Rodrigo Sánchez de Arévalo (1404-1470) [folio BX2349 S36 1507 (By consultation) Rare Books/Special Collections – Raymond Klibansky Collection (McLennan Bldg, 4th floor)]. Click image for full view.

“It was in the reading room of Rare Books and Special Collections that history came to life for me. Whether one is looking at a reader’s notes written in the margins of a book centuries ago, or at cheaply printed pamphlets (sometimes dirty and frayed from use) that were published in quick succession in response to each other, there’s nothing like direct contact with these artefacts to bring the past to life.” Jillian Tomm, BMus’97, MLIS’02, PhD’13

McLennan Library

Students working at McLennan. Click image for full view.

“I used to hide out in McLennan Library. If I am not mistaken the call number of Math books was about QA 612-620 and they were located just west of the staircase in the center of the library, on the ground floor. I recall that there were many math books from the turn of the last century that had been acquired with funds provided by Sir William Macdonald.” Robert Kotiuga, BA’81, MEng’82, PhD’85

“If I had to identify one area of any of McGill’s libraries that I find especially agreeable, it would have to be the lobby of the McLennan Library, where I can enjoy the unfailingly professional and courteous assistance of our staff, many of whom I have known for years and who are like friends to me.” Donald Baronowski, BA’72, Faculty Lecturer (retired), Department of History and Classical Studies

“One of my special places in the Library was on the ground floor of theMcLennan Library, looking over the field to the east. Here I would sit, in a comfy chair, feet on a warm radiator, reading my novels for first year English. Another favourite spot was the hallway connecting the Redpath and McLennan buildings, where the Arts students gathered to chat. It was one of the friendliest, most sociable places on the McGill campus at the time.” Don Walcot, BA’63

Olser Library

Quiet study at the Olser Library of the History of Medicine. Click image for full view.

“In the fall of 1960, I was asked (as a member of the Red Wing Society) to conduct a tour of the campus with members of the Peking Opera Company, which was performing in Montreal. During their tour, the visitors expressed an interest in seeing the Medical School because of their interest in Norman Bethune. I knew about Bethune because I had taken a course given by his friend, Hugh MacLennan, just after the publication of his book, The Watch That Ends the Night, in which one of the characters is modelled on Bethune. We visited the Osler Library in the Strathcona Building, where there was some archival material about Bethune. I still remember being impressed by the beauty of this library. I thought it a very special place.” Judith Maclean Rodger, BA’61

“My visits to the Osler Library provided heady encounters with the innovators of medical science – within the patina of the past. Very inspirational!” Janet Robertson, MSc’69, PhD’73

“For a physician, the Osler Library is hallowed ground. Sir William Osler’s spirit seems to infuse the intellectually stimulating events which take place there. The Rare Books collection is enhanced by the exhibitions which are presented. Each time I attend a concert or lecture in Redpath Hall, I recall when it was the reading room, and I would withdraw stage plays and sit at one of the long tables and devour them.” Victor C. Goldbloom, BSc’44, MD’45


A packed house surrounds the Blackader-Lauterman Collection of Architecture and Art. Click image for full view.

“My favourite spot in the Libraries was the Blackader-Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art. As a student in the 1960s I loved to study in the bright airy space, surrounded by beautiful books. Later, in the 1990s, I was fortunate to work there as the Reference Librarian and enjoy the space while serving students and faculty.” Jewel Lowenstein, BA’63, BLS’64, MLIS’87

“In the 1970s my boyfriend (now husband, Dr. Bruce Dobby) and I loved studying at the Blackader-Lauderman Library, as much for its beautiful space and light as for its inspiring collection. It was our meeting place, our oasis, our connection, and a catalyst for our studying.” Delight Cornell Dobby, BA’75, Dip Ed’76, MLS’81

Islamic Studies Library

The Octagon Room, Islamic Studies Library. Click image for full view.

“I can’t remember precisely which corner of the library I favoured…but given the chance it would have been close to the shelves that bore the Rabelais or the Thomas Browne volumes. Incidentally, I remember once reading the reminiscences of a devotee of the London Library, who evoked the 18th century aroma of the French literature shelves!” Eric de Bellaigue, BA’53

Photo credit, Redpath Hall: William Notman & Sons, circa 1893.

Photo credit for all other spaces: Klaus Fiedler, McGill Library

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