Master Library Space Plan - Executive Summary

Table of Contents 

The McMaster University Library Master Plan represents the first step in the realization of the future libraries at McMaster.

Undertaken over a six month period with input from more than 350 participants, the Master Plan lays out a comprehensive vision and strategy for the future of the McMaster University Library.

The libraries at McMaster are among the most significant places on the main McMaster campus. Home to a series of unique and remarkable collections, the buildings play a central role in the lives of thousands of students,and are beloved by generations of alumni.

Three libraries form the basis of this Master Plan:

  • Mills Memorial Library, which opened on May 1, 1951, has undergone numerous expansions over the years, with the most recent major renovation completed in 1994. Mills is focused on humanities and social sciences.
  • H.G. Thode Library of Science and Engineering, which opened in 1978.
  • Innis Library, which opened in 1974 and focuses on the academic and research interests of the DeGroote School of Business

This Master Plan provides a comprehensive road map for McMaster University Libraries’ transformation into a 21st century research library—one that reflects the needs of today’s students while offering the flexibility and resources to accommodate the needs of tomorrow’s students as well. Drawing on a comprehensive analysis of existing conditions and stakeholder engagement, the plan combines the broad vision of the University’s Strategic Plan with the specific aspirations of students, researchers, faculty, and staff. It synthesizes these aspirations into a project vision and proposes a new program that can fulfill this vision while remaining responsive to changing University needs. Building on design principles that emphasize long-term flexibility, adaptability and integration, the Plan locates the revised program within the framework of the existing buildings. Finally, it describes an execution strategy that divides this work into a series of phased projects which can be funded and executed over the next ten years.

The resulting proposal represents an act of stewardship for McMaster University Library: a transformation that will preserve the Libraries’ unique characteristics and qualities, while giving them renewed relevance as hubs of scholarship, collaboration, and innovation on the McMaster University campus.


A Master Plan serves a range of purposes:

  1. It provides the design team, users and management with an integrated document summarizing high level requirements for the future projects;
  2. It provides users, management and others with a reference manual with which to monitor and manage the development of the future phases of the master plan, ensuring that design solutions respect the plan’s overall intent;
  3. It provides users and management with a reference manual on which to focus discussions involving the development of administrative and organizational policies for the Library;
  4. It provides management with a reference manual that can be used to help in the decision making and development of new services and operational procedures for the Library;
  5. It provides a comprehensive project overview from which a philanthropic campaign can be developed
  6. It includes project information organized in such a way as to clarify opportunities for optimal building functioning for intended use and users; and
  7. It provides management and others with a reference manual from which they can plan for the phasing of individual projects and for the ongoing operation of the buildings.