The Osler Library of McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine houses an irreplaceable collection of books and manuscripts of world importance, concentrating on the history of medicine. The core of the collection was bequeathed by Sir William Osler in 1919.
The collection and Osler’s ashes were originally housed in a purpose-built reading room, designed by Percy Nobbs, in the Strathcona Medical Building. In 1962, the library was dismantled and reconstituted into the then-new McIntyre Medical Building. Its rectangular configuration fit awkwardly into the modern curvilinear geometry and the library was surrounded by vestigial storage spaces, adjacent to the window walls. Over the decades, the books had been removed from their shelves and stored in other areas of the library.
EVOQ was mandated to renovate the 3rd and 4th floor of the Osler Library, in the “panhandle” of the McIntyre Medical Building. The principal aim was to better protect the rare books and other artefacts in the collection by:
- Relocating the rare books to ensure their protection and security.
- Housing them in an environment with appropriate climate and environmental controls.
The collection was sorted according to climate control requirements and different spaces were defined to meet these requirements. Provisions were made for controlled access to the collection. Most of the books were then reinstated to their original, purpose-built shelving cabinets, located in the library proper.