W.A.C. Bennett Library party celebrates ‘new front door’

May 09, 2014

The university community and friends showed up in large numbers May 7 to help the SFU Library celebrate completion of an extensive renovation of the main (third) floor of its Burnaby campus W.A.C. Bennett Library.

The Open Spaces! Bright Ideas! grand opening featured an official welcome, cake, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and opportunities to the explore the revitalized space, try out new services, view exhibits and lounge on the cozy seating. Students also competed in a variety of activities to win an iPad Mini and other prizes.

“This is a great day,” VP Research Mario Pinto told crowd, noting that unlike most other universities the library reports to the VP Research office, reflecting its central importance to both the university’s mission and its research enterprise. And he said that relationship will continue under his successor Joy Johnson when the new VP Research takes over Sept 1.

Every year the W.A.C. Bennett Library receives more than a million visitors and in the fall semester almost 10,000 visits a day, despite all the online services now available, said Pinto.

“The research and intellectual expansion which is fundamental to the university experience would not be possible would not be possible without the extensive personnel services and resources provided by the library. The connection between people, facilities and resources—with an emphasis on people—orchestrated by the library inspires researchers at all levels.

“As the vice-president, research, I’ve been strongly committed to supporting all the library’s endeavours, including renewing spaces in very different formats to respond to the community, to student demand and to enhance the library’s ability to connect to all members of the university and beyond.

“So I’m very proud to the results of this renewal—open, inviting, revitalized spaces for our students, faculty and the community.”

The new features on the main floor include an integrated hub combining information and checkout services with reserves within a dramatic circular space at the centre of the main floor. The library entrance was also renovated to provide better climate control and integration with Convocation Mall, and space for an automated book return. The revitalized space also encompasses a new Learning and Events room, student lounge, and enhanced Student Learning Commons consultation space.

“We’re delighted with the results,” says Natalie Gick, the associate university librarian for administrative services who managed the project, which was completed on time and on budget.

“This is essentially our new front door and we wanted the space to be as bright, inviting and comfortable as possible, filled with innovative places to conduct research and study in as well as areas for exchange, collaboration and quiet contemplation.

“It’s been completely revitalized to accommodate the contemporary use of library collections for teaching and research, the rapid growth in collaborative studies, SFU’s primary focus on student, research and community engagement, and the central role of digital technology in all university activities.”

The brightly lit entrance both draws people in and enlivens the outside Convocation Mall, says Gick. “Spacious study lounges with modern, comfortable furniture and multiple power outlets stretch on either side of the entrance. And services—both high-tech self-serve options and from librarians and assistants—are readily available, front and centre.”

Also visible from the entrance is the glass walled "jewel box" learning space for writing, learning and library workshops and events showcasing the university's connections between learning, research and community.

Revitalizing the W.A.C. Bennett Library is a key element of the SFU Library’s current strategic plan and a centerpiece of its fundraising priorities.


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