A little history lesson

Have you ever wondered why the Humanities and Social Sciences Library has so many names? Is it McLennan? Is it Redpath? Where is this Blackader everyone says is a great place to study?

The mystery lies in the history of the building. If you stand on McTavish Street and look at the entire complex, you can see how the Humanities & Social Sciences Library is actually composed of several separate building styles.

The original library was housed in what is now called Redpath Hall and was built in 1893.  In fact, you can still see Redpath Library etched in stone on the building’s exterior although it no longer functions in that manner. If you get a chance, catch a performance by students and faculty from the Schulich School of Music and imagine the room as it once was.

In the 1950s, an extension was added (this is the section of the library referred to sometimes as the “Redpath Library”), which currently houses primarily study spaces, a computer, lab, as well as the Cybertheque and cafeteria in the basement.

The library was further expanded in the 1960s when McLennan was built (the six story component that houses all of the library’s books at the corner of Sherbrooke and McTavish).

We tried to ease confusion by calling the complex (Redpath + McLennan) the Humanities and Social Sciences Library but the two separate building names have stuck.This is why however the building can feel confusing to get around some times as different sections were conceived and built in different decades.

Take a walk around and see if you can catch the architectural differences!

P.S. The elusive Blackader Lauterman is located on the third floor of the Redpath section. Take the staircase located between the men’s washroom and the new seating area.


Improve your language skills this summer!

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to speak with the locals when you’re on vacation? What about learning some useful sentences in Spanish, Italian or Russian?

Well, through our eBook and audiobook collection, you can have 24/7-hour access to hundreds of titles on foreign language study. In fact, the library currently has 419 titles on language study that are all accessible through OverDrive.

Parlez-vous français? Want to travel around the beautiful Province of Quebec but your knowledge of French is limited? Check out any one of the French languages study titles such as: “Beginning French for the Utterly Confused” or “Behind the Wheel Express – French 1”. Want to learn Mandarin? Have a look at: “Chinese for Dummies”. If you’ve been trying to forever get rid of your foreign accent that always makes you stand out in an English crowd you should read “Accent Reduction Made Easy” (maybe I should check out this book myself! After 27 years in Canada, people still detect my Spanish accent).

All you need to borrow materials from McGill OverDrive is your McGill ID barcode and PIN number. Once you log in, you can borrow e-audiobooks for a period of 7 to 14 days in MP3 and WMA format. For transfer to Apple devices iTunes is required as well. And the greatest thing about these books is that you don’t need to worry about getting water or sand on them or about returning them to the library on time. The e-audiobooks you borrow will be returned to the OverDrive collection automatically after a set number of days (between 7 to 14) so you have nothing to worry about while you are traveling!

So the next time you are at the beach in Cuba, or walking in some plaza in Madrid, think about the thrill of being able to ask the waiter: “una cerveza fria porfavor” (a cold beer, please) while secretly knowing that you just learned how to say that in Spanish a few minutes ago!

For more information about OverDrive go to: http://www.mcgill.ca/library/library-findinfo/ebooks/borrowing-eaudiobooks/

Have a wonderful summer!

Print or Electronic Books? That is the question!

"Let me see, let me see; is not the leaf turn'd down Where I left reading? Here it is, I think."

Well actually, there really isn’t any question at all. In my humble opinion, the advantages of owning an electronic version of a book instead of a print copy far outweigh the disadvantages. In a perfect world, without budgetary restrictions, we would purchase a print version and an electronic version of every title we select for the library. We would also have a copy of every book ever published if we lived in that world! Since this isn’t the case, librarians are frequently faced with the decision of which format to buy. Sometimes there is no choice because no electronic version is available, however, increasingly an electronic version is available for purchase.

Based on my experience helping folks at our service desk, some people prefer reading in print, while for others, if it’s not online it’s as if it doesn’t exist. Although, I have noticed that when the print copy isn’t available people are generally very happy to have access to an electronic version. Often, especially during paper time, scholars just need to access a chapter, a section of a book, or to verify the pagination for a citation, all of which can be done remotely from home, which is particularly great in the middle of winter! For the record, I prefer reading books in print, especially fiction, however, I have read many eBooks on my Kobo and iPad and have become accustomed to this as well.

There are a variety of technical factors that can limit access to eBooks. Sometimes these issues can discourage people from trying to access or download eBooks after a negative first experience. Many of these access issues are related to digital rights management (DRM). Even our DRM protected eBooks are generally easy to access and download, once you follow the instructions and figure out how they work. After that, they are really quite simple to use. Many of our eBooks have no DRM, and allow for unlimited viewing and downloading, which is like having as many copies as you need for your clientele at any given time. As far as I’m concerned, it’s really this last point that gives eBooks the edge over print. Also, the majority of our students now own mobile technology, such as an eBook reader or tablet, which allows them to take advantage of our incredible and ever expanding eBook collection.

Regardless of how you feel about eBooks versus print books, both formats will be essential parts of the collection in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library for the foreseeable future.

Let us know what you think. Do you prefer reading eBooks or Print? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of both formats?