The Osler Library’s rare and circulating collections will be unavailable for six months beginning in April, due to a major renovation project for the McIntyre Medical Building.
According to Marilena Cafaro, building director of the Faculty of Medicine, the renovation program consists of two projects—the updating of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems on floors one to six of the McIntyre Building, as well as construction to the roof on the McIntyre terrace—both of which affect the Osler library.
Christopher Lyons, Head Librarian of the Osler Library, said plans for the renovations began just over a year ago. He emphasized the need for the renovations.
“Roofs are always an issue with rare books and special collections,” Lyons said. “[Our roofs] are over 20 years old [….] There are drainage pipes under the roofs, so you need to drain the water otherwise you end up with bad leaks [….] The pipes themselves are almost 50 years old. They haven’t leaked yet, but you never know.”
According to Lyons, the drainage pipes will be replaced and upgraded to stainless steel.
Between April and October 2014, the Osler Library’s collections will be mostly inaccessible, although circulating materials loaned before April 1 can be held throughout the duration of the renovations.
Additionally, rare materials requiring special conditions for storage can be accessed through the Rare Collections Library in McLennan if requested before renovations begin. Otherwise, they will be transported to a secure storage area.
Lyons said that despite the inaccessibility of the collection, library staff would be available to assist with supplementing materials throughout the months.
“All McGill users can get books through interlibrary loans for free, so we should be able to get anything that is in the Osler circulating collection (and more) from other libraries,” he said. “There is also a great deal of material that is available online, including the medical journals and historical ones […] as well as a growing number of scholarly eBooks.”
David Benrimoh, Medicine representative at the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), noted that the repairs would have minimal effect on students.
“The move is a necessity for the HVAC repairs,” Benrimoh said. “The average student might make more use of the general Osler collection, but I don’t think the rare books will really affect the [medical] students […] They’re not directly in use in the curriculum everyday.”
Lyons said he is optimistic that the changes would pose few problems for students.
“For the few students who may be doing in depth medical projects who need those books, maybe it’ll affect them, but since they will be able to request the books ahead of time, I don’t think it will affect the average student at all,” he said.
Tessa Battistin, U1 Arts student and frequent user of Osler, agreed with Lyons, saying that she was open to the changes facing the library in upcoming months.
“Although it’s inconvenient, I appreciate everything McGill is doing to make the material available if we need [it],” she said. “I don’t really see any potential problems based on the services McGill and Osler is offering.”
The Life Sciences Library on the third floor of the McIntyre Building will remain accessible.