Frequently Asked Questions

The Fiat Lux Project is the transformation of the McLennan-Redpath Library complex into a new library filled with service and space offerings for the digital era to better respond to the needs of McGill students. The new library will be a light-filled, open-concept space that favours flexibility and multifunctionality to support different modes of learning, as well as health and well-being. The new library will nearly double available seating. The increase in seats will be achieved by relocating a sizable portion of the book collection to the new McGill University Collections Centre, from which items can be delivered daily. The community will be able to take advantage of diverse types of seating including: 1) silent spaces like reading rooms for individual, focused work; 2) quiet, open areas; 3) social learning environments that offer flexible, collaborative spaces that encourage interaction; and 4) enclosed, group study rooms for project breakout sessions and discussions.
Construction is currently anticipated to begin in 2025 and will take an estimated two to three years to complete. The McLennan-Redpath Library complex will be unavailable throughout the construction process. Additional student study spaces and service points in other buildings on campus will be available. Although the McLennan-Redpath Library complex will be closed during this period, the Collections Centre will be fully operational, and the McGill community will have ready access to all books. Librarians and staff will continue to provide their customary high level of service to the community from other downtown McGill Libraries.
The design stage is almost complete. The project continues to move forward and discussions with provincial and municipal authorities are ongoing. More information will be shared as the project progresses.
To understand the desired future experience of the Library from the perspectives of its users, the Fiat Lux project team and Library senior administrators have invited McGill students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and other community stakeholders to participate in several types of consultations. Beginning in 2012, a series of facilitated communication methods have been implemented to gather input and inspiration including two open feedback fair sessions, focus groups for faculty, staff, and students, community surveys, interviews, study tours, journey mapping sessions, open forums, town halls, presentations, and a symposium on the future of academic libraries. More engagement opportunities are being planned.
The project team is in regular discussions with the Indigenous Initiatives Office and local elders. We expect these conversations to continue as the project moves forward. The project will aim to develop initiatives related to the Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education. Currently the project team is planning exhibition spaces for the display of Indigenous art and is in the design phase for the development of a space on the street level of the new build that will celebrate Indigenous cultures.
The project is being realized thanks to private funding and institutional support. McGill’s Friends of the Library, a volunteer organization, sponsored an extensive feasibility study in 2012. In addition, donors to the McGill Fund have provided immediate support and legacy gift donors are assuring the project’s long-term success. The project also requires the engagement of the entire McGill community, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Seating: The new library will include over 5,000 seats for users. Seating will be a mix of informal and formal seating, shared workspaces, and individual workstations so users can be “alone, together” or simply alone. Seating options will be ergonomic and will include study booths, group study rooms, soft/lounge seating, configurable furniture, fixed or flexible table seating, high-top tables, laptop tables. Two electrical outlets will be available per seat and campus WIFI will support the use of technology in all spaces.
Grand Reading Rooms: Two grand reading rooms, one parallel to Sherbrooke Street and a second overlooking Mount Royal and campus will provide a silent work environment and connect students working at McGill with stunning, inspirational views of Montreal.
Graduate Student Space: Located on the upper floor of the library, this dedicated space for graduate students will house a shared lounge, individual study spaces with carrels, PhD student offices, and small workrooms to give students a sense of community and connection.
Atrium: A double-height atrium will feature a dramatic window view of Mount Royal and campus and serve as a destination for informal gatherings and events.
Classrooms: Several new, fully wired, flexible classrooms outfitted with supportive technology will provide the ideal space for workshops and teaching activities led by librarians.
Special Collections: The new library will continue to advance scholarship and learning through rare and unique materials by housing Rare Books & Special Collections, McGill’s Visual Arts Collection, and the McGill University Archives in an appropriate environment. The special collections space will include a reading room, consultation rooms, the Book Arts Lab, an event space, and a digitization lab. Exhibition areas will highlight unique primary source materials.
Café: A café will be in the new library. The project team is collaborating with McGill Food Services to ensure that the offerings reflect the needs of the community. The Café will be in a high-traffic area adjacent to a social learning space and will include a seating area.
Green roof & rooftop terrace: The new library will incorporate elements of biophilic design. A rooftop space will offer students and visitors alike breathtaking views of surrounding areas while promoting a healthy connection to the outdoors and nature within the library. These and other green spaces will help to balance the hours spent indoors working and studying.
Technology will be at the core of the new library, with state-of-the-art equipment and programming that will support users in engaging with digital tools and methodologies. The legacy of many generations of libraries will merge with new technology to give members of the McGill community intellectually inspiring spaces with enhanced services and expertise. The new library will offer:
  • Signature tech-focused spaces. These special spaces and accompanying services (i.e., training & workshops) are key elements of our vision to augment library activities. They can empower users to not only access and use information, but also to generate and share knowledge; to not only follow existing paths but also to forge new ones. These include:
    • Technology Sandbox: This welcoming space in support of student creativity will foster hands-on learning, problem-solving, and experimentation and support multi-disciplinary collaboration in disciplines like artificial intelligence. It will offer 3D printers, VR/AR/XR headsets & trackers, circuit boards, sensors, and many other types of equipment to support students’ needs.
    • Soundproofed A/V rooms: Two A/V rooms will be equipped with microphones and audio equipment for recording and producing high-quality audio, podcasts, and presentations.
    • “Black Box” Room: Inspired by the flexibility of a Black Box Theatre, this room is a canvas for creating, experimenting, and experiencing. Equipment such as green screens and lighting modules will be available for recording video productions, as will furniture and backdrops. Interviews, dance, how-to demonstrations, and citizen contributions to public discourse could all be recorded in the space. Advanced video recording techniques such as motion capture will be easy to set up, as will more traditional visual capture methods such as photo shoots.
    • Idea Hive: This collaborative space will enable students to work together on projects, assignments, and research in a wired, comfortable, and inspiring environment. Students will have access to whiteboards, monitors on wheels, desktop projectors, and mounted screens to communicate and collaborate with their peers and mentors from other locations and institutions.
  • Tech learning & resources open to all! Free offerings include tech workshops, one-on-one consultation time, highly specialized software, and 24 collaborative workstations. Expert library staff will offer workshops on and support for a variety of digital learning, research, and creation tools including statistics software, qualitative coding tools, visualization environments, media production packages, text analysis methods, and more. Individual consultations will be available to get students the help they need to achieve their visions and expand their knowledge.
  • Technology Lending Library provides opportunities for students to try out a new tech or learn about a new tool. One can never know what experience will be transformational, so we aspire to provide as many options as possible. Equipment could include VR headsets, 360-degree cameras, portable projectors, audio/lighting/video equipment, microscopes, telescopes, and new technology of interest to students. Laptops, power cords and peripherals will also be available for loan at vending-style machines.
Approximately 1.3 million books will be kept on campus in our libraries. 400,000 items will be kept in the transformed McLennan-Redpath Library complex. Since disciplines vary in their use of print material, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to deciding which books will physically remain in the Library. Library staff will continue to work with different user groups (i.e., faculty, researchers, and students) to determine the makeup of the collection in their subject areas that will be retained on campus. Decisions will be informed by staff expertise, user feedback, and empirical data. Feedback is welcome at all stages of this process.
Services, spaces, and materials currently held in other McGill Libraries, such as the Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering, Nahum Gelber Law, and Marvin Duchow Music libraries, will remain at their locations and be available as usual during this time.
These services will be permanently relocated. The locations for these services are to be determined by the Office for Campus Planning & Development, the Office of the Deputy Provost, Student Life & Learning, and other units.
No. Redpath Hall is a gem of the campus and will continue to play an integral role as a performance space.
Other Library projects have shown that Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is well within reach without significant budgetary increases. By incorporating new technology, the rebuilt facility would represent a reduced carbon footprint relative to the current energy-inefficient Redpath Library Building. This is especially important for the Rare Books and Special Collections and the McGill University Archives which require precise environmental conditions. This project is also incorporating elements that fall within The WELL Building Standard®, “a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.” The Fiat Lux project is looking to develop the new library as a WELL Certified™ space.