McLennan Library Building
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McLennan Library Building -- McGill Archives

The McLennan Library was constructed at the northeast corner of Sherbrooke and McTavish between 1967 and 1969 by the firm Dobush, Stewart, and Bourke, the designers of the Stewart Biological Sciences and Ernest Rutherford Physics Buildings. It stands on the site of what was once Jesse Joseph's mansion named Dilcoosha, meaning the Heart's Delight in Hindustani. This exotic abode, which was a COTC headquarters during World War I and after that was the home of the McCord museum for many years, was built in 1864 and demolished in 1955 due to the structural failure of one of its walls.

The massive, seven-storey reinforced concrete structure that is McGill's largest library was named in honour of Isabella McLennan who had given McGill a fortune with which to purchase books, a need that will never be satisfied. McLennan Library, located just south of the modern part of Redpath Hall and connected to it by a bridge hallway, has an outer shell consisting of identical precast concrete panels that are attached to a reinforced concrete frame. The main entrance to McLennan is at the south end of Redpath's concrete terrace; it replaced the stairs that went from the terrace to Sherbrooke. All traffic between floors is controlled by the central stairwell and elevator core. This allows each floor to allocate a maximum amount of space to book stacks and reading areas which, for the most part, are open to the students. The first floor, which is actually one below the main entrance level, houses the McGill Archives and the fascinating collections of the Rare Books and Special Collections. The principal entrance level, actually on the second floor, contains the circulation desk, the reference area, and library administration.

The only decoration of this massive edifice is the repeating pattern created by the concrete exterior. The prefabricated concrete exterior blends well with the newer Samuel Bronfman Building across McTavish. The colour and texture of the durable concrete integrate McLennan with the rest of the campus. The interior has a calm quiet air which, combined with soft lighting, facilitates studying without distraction.

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Built 1969
Architect - Dobush, Stewart, and Bourke
Donor - McLennan family
Current use - Main Library

Model of McLennan Library Building
-- McGill Archives

McLennan Library Building
-- McGill Archives

View from campus
-- Instructional Communications Centre

View from Sherbrooke
-- Instructional Communications Centre