Humber Libraries staff, like many other libraries, were faced with having to not only adjust to a new workplace dynamic but the need to quickly adapt to new technology and software.
Christmas came early to Carleton University’s MacOdrum Library: on Dec. 5, University Librarian Margaret Haines officially opened the newly renovated library that now offers twice the available seating, an expanded area for students with disabilities and a new interactive research space.
Both the university and the provincial government funded the $24-million project, which is part of the Ontario government’s long-term plan to provide students with up-to-date technological learning environments.
One of the new study and research hubs is the Discovery Centre. Designed to support undergraduate research and engagement, the centre is equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Faculty members can book classrooms that facilitate immersive learning projects with equipment such as Makerbot 3D printers. Plus, students have access to group study rooms that allow them to collaborate on group research projects and to ergonomic seating that allows them to redesign the space to suit their needs.
James Nugent, a first-year mechanical engineering student, says the “bright, comfortable” space has become his favourite place to study on campus.
“I spend around 12 hours a week up there,” he says. “It is a good place to work as a group or on your own. The big tables and movable furniture are very helpful for this. The atmosphere is much nicer than many of the other study areas in the university.”
Professor Dominique Marshall also uses the centre regularly: as a place to hold office hours. Marshall, who is the current chair of Carleton’s history department, had not met students in the library before the renovations because “many of the common areas were designated as ‘quiet spaces’ and the meeting rooms did not seem any more appealing than my own office.”
However, the new furniture and equipment, including large computer screens, have changed her mind.
“[With] the screen, I can plug on my laptop so I can show students how to work and [those] waiting to see me can come and watch,” she explains. Plus, she enjoys having access to the big tables so that she can work together with her students on papers and assignments.
Associate University Librarian Valerie Critchley oversaw the three-year expansion project and is pleased with the results, partly because she senses that the atmosphere in the library has improved significantly.
“Last year, people were on top of each other and we could feel the pressure. This year, they have much more room to study, individually and in groups. Frankly, students seem much happier.”
Martha Attridge Bufton, is the InsideOCULA Editor and a subject specialist in Reference Services at the Carleton University Library. She can be reached at martha.attridgebufton [at] carleton.ca.