About the project

About the project

As McGill University approaches its 200th anniversary in 2021, we have developed a bold vision to transform the Library into a cutting-edge nexus for teaching, learning and research in the digital age. The Fiat Lux Library Building Project is being realized through a combination of philanthropy and institutional support.

The words inscribed above the entrance to an early library building, Fiat Lux: Let There Be Light, reflect the goal of this ambitious undertaking: to create a new Library complex that will accommodate exciting advances in technology-based learning and pedagogy, proactively positioning it to meet the needs of current and future McGill students, faculty and researchers.

The new Library complex will embrace McGill University’s rich past and integrate programming to address current space and service issues. Incorporating a rebuilt 1950s Redpath and renovated 1960s McLennan buildings, the modernized and expanded Library will be reconfigured to suit the study requirements of 21st-century library users – nearly doubling the spaces for the McGill community.

The renovated space will feature a light-filled atrium, an iconic reading room with views of Redpath Hall, the campus and Mount Royal, along with a multi-functional stepped-forum, Digital Scholarship Centre and Innovation Lab. A completely re-imagined Rare Books and Special Collections will be accessible in addition to a visual arts gallery, providing increased visibility to contemporary and historic artworks from the McGill Visual Arts Collection.

The McGill Library is the busiest spot on campus and a home away from home for thousands of scholars each year. We are now reaching out to the Library’s loyal and committed community to lend valued support to this bicentennial project.

Community Consultation

The Fiat Lux Feasibility Study and Master Plan published in 2015 and related initiatives are dependent upon a high level of community involvement and constituent collaboration to ensure the project reflects the needs and aspirations of all who use, work in and explore the Library. A series of facilitated communication methods were created to gather input and inspiration from the planning team and participants.


  • Governance and working committees (2014-2015, 2018-2019)
  • Student Focus Groups & Feedback Fair (October 15, 2014; April 17, 2019; spring 2019 online survey for graduate students)
  • Faculty Focus Groups & Feedback Fair (October 14, 2014 and May 10, 2019)
  • Library Staff Focus Groups, Feedback Fair & Town Hall (October 15, 2014; May 10, 2019; June 13-14, 2019)
  • Partner Unit Focus Groups (October 15, 2014; June 13-14, 2019)
  • System-wide visitor survey (November 18, 2014 and November 19, 2018)
  • System-wide head counting study (November 26-29, 2019)
  • McGill Senate presentation (January 16, 2019)
  • Online awareness campaign and feedback form (ongoing, 200+ submissions received so far)
  • Special events and presentations including a town hall, symposium on the future of libraries and an open forum (see below)

November 2014 - Town Hall

On November 11, 2014, McGill hosted a Town Hall for libraries to help reimagine the Library of the 20th century by incorporating evolving modern needs of the on-campus community. The Project Team explored 21st-century academic library trends and presented general themes, ideas, and feedback collected from recent faculty, student and staff focus groups. Over 150 people attended the event and helped spread awareness about the planning project, gain public support for the process and present the Project Team with direct feedback from constituents.

March 2015 - Symposium

On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, the McGill Library and Archives held a half-day symposium for McGill faculty featuring thought leaders with extensive experience in the academic, scholarly publishing and research library world who addressed the changing environment for academic research libraries and the evolving role of digital and print collections.

Full Symposium agenda | Symposium playlist on Youtube | Speaker biographies

PANELISTS: Larry Alford, Chief Librarian, University of Toronto Libraries; Chris Bourg, Director, MIT Libraries; Harriette Hemmasi, Joukowsky Family University Librarian, Brown University Libraries; Clifford Lynch, Director, Coalition for Networked Information.

Symposium | The future of academic research libraries - Introductory Remarks, Dean Colleen Cook


Dr. Colleen Cook, Trenholme Dean of Libraries, McGill University

Symposium | The future of academic research libraries - Larry Alford, "4th Information Revolution"

Libraries & the Fourth Information Revolution: A Snapshot

Larry Alford, Chief Librarian, University of Toronto Libraries

Symposium | The future of academic research libraries - Chris Bourg, "The Once & Future Librarian"

The Once & Future Librarian

Chris Bourg, Director, MIT Libraries

Text | Slides (PowerPoint)

Symposium | The future of academic research libraries - H. Hemmasi "Mobilizing Collection Action"

Mobilizing Academic Libraries for Collective Action

Harriette Hemmasi, Joukowsky Family University Librarian, Brown University

Symposium | The future of academic research libraries - C. Lynch - 21st Century Research Collections

Research Library Collections & Collecting in the 21st Century

Clifford Lynch, Director, Coalition for Networked Information


Symposium | The future of academic research libraries - A. Masi - Wrap-up & Commentary

Wrap-up & Commentary

Professor Anthony C. Masi, Provost, McGill University

October 2015 - Feasibility Study Open Forum

After a ninth-month process, the McGill Library Feasibility Study's Project Team proudly presented the results of Fiat Lux: Let There Be Light at an Open Forum in the Library's Cybertheque on October 15, 2015. Dozens of McGill students, staff and faculty converged to hear about the prudent but ambitious vision behind the project to reimagine the McLennan-Redpath complex for the 21st century. The Project Team explained the methodology behind the design, shared the architectural and structural vision for the site and detailed the potential phasing implementation options!