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McGill begins feasibility study on redesigning libraries

McGill will soon conduct a feasibility study to determine how the university’s libraries and archives can best transform its user spaces and collection storage.

According to the library master plan website, the libraries need to be renovated in order to meet the needs of students and faculty, and evolve to current technologies. The libraries also need to meet increasing demands for space, as the archives are overcrowded and lacking in study areas  according to a statement by the library.

Boston-based architecture firm Shepley-Bulfinch and the Quebec-based firm EKM Architecture will be surveying library sites on campus and collecting data from now until spring 2015.  Architects will seek input from students participating in focus groups this week on the future of all McGill libraries.

“I think that the project is really based on a desire to have library spaces that are more reflective of how students study, and particularly of how undergraduate users interact with library spaces and services,” Library Improvement Fund Coordinator and VP Academic of the AUS Erin Sobat said. “It’s definitely indicative of the library’s desire to be responsive to the needs of its users.”

The Osler library has been inaccessible since April 1 due to renovations to the McIntyre Medical Building’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) infrastructure.  It will reopen this October.  Its rare books have been moved temporarily to an environmentally controlled storage area and are available through the catalogue.

VP Communications of the Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) May Yin-Liao serves as the liason between the Faculty of Science and the Life Sciences Library by sitting in on the task force responsible for making decisions about the library. The Life Sciences library closed and moved its collection to Schulich Library in August 2013. This group met last week for the first time.

“Any type of renovation to the [life sciences] library will still benefit science undergraduate students in the long run,” Yin-Liao said.  “It means more study space will be available in the McIntyre building, which will be great for all those life sciences students who have classes, research, or work in the building.”

Yin-Liao continued to explain how areas of the library would be renovated to accommodate different  methods of studying.

“The general consensus seems to be leaning towards converting the available library space on both the third and fourth floor into a multitude of things,” Yin-Liao said. “This includes more quiet study space for students, group study rooms that can be used for both seminar and research teaching—for Medical and graduate students specifically—and actual group study when not in use.”

The consultation plans to complete the feasibilible study for recommendations for the development of a marketing file.

“It really is a long-term, conceptual project, and we probably won’t see too many concrete results for several years.” Sobat said.

The student focus group sessions will be held the afternoon of Wednesday, October 15, in the McLennan Library Building. 

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