The Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering will be temporarily closed for two years to undergo renovations. According to Diane Koen, senior director of Planning and Resources of the McGill Library services, the closure will tentatively come into effect on May 15, 2019. Renovations to the Schulich library will address the serious structural issues which were discovered during the Macdonald-Stewart Library Building roof renovation in 2010.
“For about the last four years, we have these temporary internal walls put up, and windows are covered because they had to do this intervention [. . .] to make sure both inside and outside the walls were stabilized.” Koen said.
In addition to repairing and stabilizing the masonry of the building, McGill will also take the opportunity to install new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, add more group-study rooms for reserve by students, and increase the number of washrooms on every floor. Currently, McGill is working with EVOQ Architecture to finalize the design plans.
“This is a 19th-century building, let’s make it into a 21st-century library, [and] within the budget that is available to us,” Koen said.
McGill Library Services Communications Officer Merika Ramundo referred to feedback gathered through LibQual surveys, conducted to assess library users’ satisfaction, as one of the reasons motivating the additional renovations.
“In a lot of the comments we received […], we have gotten ‘it is too hot in Schulich,’” Ramundo said. “That’s a bit of a red flag in terms of the HVAC issues, so that is for sure one of the things being addressed.”
Out of the project’s total budget of $38 million, $26 million come from a Quebec government grant, and McGill’s deferred maintenance budget will supplement the remaining $12 million. The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Library Improvement Fund Committee (LIFC) also made a contribution of $75,000 to support the improvement of the washrooms and inclusion of gender-neutral options.
“The LIF decided to partially fund the project because it fulfilled an urgent and well-known student need within the McGill community: More washrooms of better quality in Schulich,” Library Improvement Fund Commissioner Marie Lemieux wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune.
The resources at Schulich, which, according to a census conducted by McGill Library Services on Nov. 19, sees roughly 3,500 visitors a day, will have to be relocated for the duration of the renovations. The library’s 20 staff members, 160,000 print volumes, and at least 675 of its 850 seats will be moved to the McLennan-Redpath Library complex where they will remain available for staff and students. In order to provide more seating at McLennan-Redpath, McGill Library Services will relocate 75 staff members on the second floor of Redpath to 550 Sherbrooke.
“We feel we can get 675 to 700 seats in [Redpath] and the only way we can do this is to move our Collection Services staff and Digital Initiative staff off-site,” Koen said. “The floor that they are on has 20 offices which will become group study rooms.”
Furthermore, 250,000 low-use print volumes, most of them available online, will be moved from the Redpath basement to a storage facility off-site.
“By moving these low use materials to storage off-site, we are freeing up space to house active collections such as the Schulich Collection and other low-use collections from various areas of the McLennan-Redpath Complex,” Koen said.
The selection of material moving to the Redpath basement is not yet final, but will likely come from the Blackader-Lauterman and McLennan collections. Material moved to the Redpath basement will continue to remain available.
“We are moving heaven and earth so that [users] can have access to their collections, quality space, librarians, and support staff that served them for years in Schulich,” Koen said. “I know it is an imposition, but we are doing everything we can do to make sure their experience is a good one.”