The Fisher is proud to hold Marshall McLuhan's working library. Holding over 6000 volumes, the library was used heavily by McLuhan in the writing of his most famous works, including Understanding Media, The Gutenberg Galaxy and The Medium is the Massage. A majority of the books bear McLuhan’s annotations and more than half of them contained material - including notes, manuscripts, and correspondence - laid into the books by McLuhan.
McLuhan is well known as a founding father of modern communications theory, and his library reflects both the genesis of his ideas and the wide-range of disciplines he drew from in this regard. Lesser-studied aspects of McLuhan’s interests, from Catholicism to environmentalism to business management, are also evident in in the contents of the library. Authors such as James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Walter J. Ong, Lewis Mumford, Etienne Gilson, Harold Adams Innis, among many others, are well represented. McLuhan’s reading habits and the specifics of his focus are palpable in the annotations that he produced during a lifetime of scholarship. Objects of McLuhan’s obsession, such as James Joyce’s Finnegan's Wake (see image), are riddled with layers of annotations.
Items laid into the books by McLuhan, now indexed and separately housed, include McLuhan’s notes, draft materials for published and unpublished material, and pieces of correspondence from his many friends, admirers and collaborators. Lists of both the books and added-in material, removed from the books for preservation, have been created.