Atwater Library

The Atwater Library and Computer Centre is the oldest lending library in Montreal. Its roots extend to the early 19th century when the Montreal Mechanics' Institution was formed, based on similar organizations that had started in London and Glasgow. It was to be a society of practical science ...

...where men could come together for technical education and study the progress of machines and the application of science to industry.


The Mechanics Institute, as it was reformed in 1840 after some "political troubles", occupied several buildings during its existence. The current location was built in 1920.


The exterior is clad in buff brick and stone. The entry staircase is made of marble and leads to a lobby whose walls rise up to a skylight in the ceiling.


On either side of the lobby are beautiful reading rooms with oak desks and chairs. The steel stacks were made open early in the Institute's history to better encourage people to explore the holdings of the library. The second floor contains rooms where instruction and lectures took place.



By the 1960's the building had converted to a public library. A children's room was added in 1981, but was being renovated when I visited. I had taken many photos but unfortunately most came out pretty horrible. Overall, I'm glad I made time to visit this space on my trip.


Atwater Library of Mechanics' Institute of Montreal, historical booklet written circa 1940, updated around 1873.

Atwater Library webpage



You know how I love the

You know how I love the library pictures....the arches inspire the mind, don't they?

I'm off to add two more books.. :)

They are inspiring. There

They are inspiring. There may be updates like computers, but seeing the details of these buildings is like traveling back in time.