Library Reviews: Episode 1 – The McLibrary

Everyone has a favorite study spot on campus, from the Schulich Stacks to the Trottier Terminals. What makes that spot their favorite varies from person to person. Some people like a comfortable chair to curl up in and read, and others like a place to go when nothing else is open at 3 A.M.. However, most people have only been to three or four of the many libraries on campus and have only heard rumors of the others.

What about the other twenty libraries – how do they fare against their more popular counterparts? To attempt to answer this question, I’m going to visit each library and study there for an hour or two. I will share my thoughts and feelings, and provide a review of the library. I’ll be ranking the libraries in several categories including: noise level, accessibility, study setup, facilities, décor, and overall appeal. Each category will be ranked out of five, with five being the best and one the worst. I’ll also provide additional useful information about the library and some tips.

McLennan is best known as the main university library, although it primarily serves humanities and social science students. At the south end of lower field, it towers several stories over Sherbrooke Street, straddling the border between campus and the real world. McLennan houses the rare books collection, as well as the government information service. When your friends hit “the library,” they often mean McLennan.


Noise Level – McLennan is almost always busy. During peak hours it can be a nightmare to find a seat. With desks everywhere and Arts students studying furiously, the sound of page-turning, sniffling, and iPhone buzzing can turn the library’s ambiance into a dull roar. Typically, when people have to make a phone call, they are courteous enough to use the central open space. Bottom-Line : The silence at McLennan isn’t so golden (3/5).


Accessibility – With six sprawling floors, McLennan is a big library. It’s not hard to get to either. Easily recognizable from almost anywhere on campus, McLennan is at the corner of Sherbrooke and MacTavish. As one of the main libraries on campus, its hours are pretty good, including twenty-four hours a day from now until the end of exams, with shorter hours earlier in the term. Bottom-Line : Easy to find and always open (5/5).


Study Setup – The desks and chairs at McLennan are a mixed bunch. Last year they replaced a number of the old carrels with new equipment. However, on some floors the old tables and carrels remain. While the spacious, generally unoccupied tables are great for reading or outlining, they don’t have outlets. The new desks are quite nice, with electrical outlets and dividers between each desk. However, they’re tightly packed. The first floor has several desks worth of computers for those without laptops. Bottom-Line: The new desks present on some floors are great. There’s a reason the older carrels upstairs are frequently empty (4/5).


Facilities – Adjacent to the Redpath cafeteria, and only a short walk from downtown shops including Second Cup and Booster Juice, as well as the Management Café, McLennan has no shortage of food options, some of which don’t require you to leave the building. With bathrooms on every floor, and no shortage of Sean Turner jokes, you won’t need to leave your work for long. However, the bathrooms are not the most inviting on campus. Bottom-Line: McLennan has a number of food options that are fast. The bathrooms are accessible, but you won’t want to linger too long (5/5).


Décor -McLennan doesn’t draw studiers because of its beautiful design. The abundance of grey concrete used in the library’s construction is almost nauseating. If you’re lucky enough to get a window seat looking over campus, the view is great, just try not to look the other way too much. Bottom-Line: Colourful furniture doesn’t do much to disguise the bland, depressing setting. (2/5)


Overall Appeal – When it’s time to buckle down, McLennan is a great place to look for a study spot – don’t arrive too late though, and bring your headphones. The library is a stereotypical university library, with rows and rows of books and tables scattered around the edges. Once you sit down, you’re sure to get some serious work done, as distractions are generally limited. While the library has more Mac Books than the Apple store, some people still go there to read books. Bottom-Line: McLennan’s main appeal is the typical library scenario it offers, which is sure to put even the most unmotivated student into a working mood. (4/5)


Total Score: 23/30 [1st]


Strengths: Accessibility, Facilities


Weaknesses: Décor, Noise Level


About the Reviewer: I’m a fourth year software engineering student in the faculty of engineering. That means that most of my schoolwork time is spent doing assignments. I get between two and three assignments per week, usually involving coding, or some sort of mathematics. It’s not often that I have to do readings for school. I like to listen to music when I study, and I do almost all of my work on the computer. The things I look for in a study-space are comfort, computer-friendliness, and an attractive setting.

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