Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

January 27, 2003

U of G library to get facelift

The days of being shushed in the University of Guelph's main library are over. U of G members and visitors will soon be able to buy coffee, lounge on soft seating, attend workshops and discuss ideas on the first floor of the McLaughlin Library. A huge renovation beginning this summer that will include an Internet café and create 24/7 library access will be completed by fall 2004.

"I want that first floor, when you come through it, to have this enormous buzz about it," said chief librarian Michael Ridley. "And for me, the buzz is the noise of people learning. It's people rubbing shoulders with each other, discussing ideas, getting help, working through their problems, sitting down and having a cup of coffee and arguing about something, using information resources."

The construction will be completed in two phases. Phase 1 will be completed in May 2003 with removal of the maps from the first floor, enhanced lighting for the map area and the installation of a temporary coffee and food-service facility.

Upgraded computers, wireless capability and a laptop loan service will be introduced during the summer of 2003 to improve student access to workstations, courseware, information resources and other services. The library is planning to offer 24/7 access beginning in fall 2003 to extend the availability of resources and services to students.

Phase 2 involves a major renovation to the first floor of the library, including construction of public and staff areas as well as the creation of a permanent Internet café. The planning, approval and implementation process for this phase will extend throughout 2003. Construction will occur in summer of 2004 to prepare the facility to be fully operational that September.

McLaughlin drew 155,000 students through its doors this September, which Ridley attributes partially to the library's central location. "If we were off to the side of the campus at the periphery, you couldn't generate the kind of physical traffic that we have. We are a central place for student life."

Ridley said he's optimistic that making the Learning Commons, McLaughlin's one-stop-support area for students, the focal point of the library will draw even more students. "If they need quiet space and other kinds of resources, we have that throughout the building, but that front door is going to be like a vortex that will draw them into the resources we have."

The Learning Commons was created in 1999 and helped change people's views of the role of the library, said Ridley. Until that point "we were thinking about getting students to our services from the wrong perspective. We were trying to get students from wherever they were to wherever our offices were, instead of creating a place where all the services were and the students could go."

The Learning Commons was recognized by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services with the 2000 Program of the Year Award.

Six key areas – the Computing and Communications Services Help Lab, Library Services, Learning Services, Supported Learning Groups, Writing Services and English as a Second Language Services – make up the Learning Commons, which has several staff members, student employees and over 70 peer helpers.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338 or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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