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The McClay Library


Designed by Boston-based architects Sheply, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott in association with Belfast architects Robinson Patterson Partnership, the £50m McClay Library opened in July 2009. The building accommodates 2,200 reader spaces and houses 1.2 million volumes.

Illuminated by a multi-storey open atrium, the award-winning McClay Library includes IT training rooms, a Language Centre, Library and Computer support areas and a café, alongside the University's Special Collections and the C.S. Lewis Reading Room. Blending the best features of a traditional library with the latest technology, The McClay Library creates a truly 21st-century environment for students.

The McClay’s construction was the most significant building project at Queen's since the construction of the iconic Lanyon building in 1849 and was the result of the largest single fundraising initiative in the University’s history. The building was named in honour of Sir Allen McClay, the founder of the pharmaceutical company Almac and a major benefactor of Queen's University and the Library.

This tour will provide you with the opportunity to learn more about the building’s world-class study facilities and wide-ranging library, computing and media services.

This tour includes:

  • A brief history of the building
  • A guided visit to the impressive C.S. Lewis Reading Room – accessed through a hand-carved 'wardrobe' door
  • A guided visit to the Special Collections service which houses the Library's rare and early printed book, map, and manuscript collections

Did you know?

  • More than £30m of the funding for the building project came from philanthropic sources – trusts and foundations, individuals and companies, Queen’s graduates and friends locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Sustainability was a critical factor in the design and construction of the library, in keeping with the University's environmental policy.
  • The building won a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Sustainability award in 2010. The RICS Awards are regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the built and natural environment.
  • The building offers 17,600 square metres of floor space (equivalent to the size of the University's quad and buildings around it or Castlecourt Shopping Centre).