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450 study seats, a zero-noise room and more: welcome to the Webster Library Transformation

On September 28, Concordia’s project delivers Phase 1 of a next-generation learning environment
September 23, 2015
By J. Latimer

The question is what to try first — the zero-noise room or one of 84 bright new study carrels?

As Phase 1 of the R. Howard Webster Library transformation is unveiled on September 28, a completely different study environment and plenty of new features will enhance Concordia students’ learning experience.

The three-year transformation project calls for nothing less than a radical rethinking of every aspect of how the library functions.

“It is essential to our growth as a university that we provide inspiring, nurturing environments for our students,” says Guylaine Beaudry, Concordia’s university librarian.

Renovations at the Webster Library began in January 2015. The final results will include 27 per cent more public space and 88 per cent more student space.

Phase 1 came in on schedule this term, delivering the following improvements to the third floor: two large, enclosed reading rooms containing a total of 210 seats, from which 48 seats at tables with desktop computers and 84 carrels; one large collaborative space that contains three group study rooms; one seminar room and Friends of the Library Room separate from the other reading rooms; a multifunctional room and a visualization studio.

Webster Library Transformation: “It is essential to our growth as a university that we provide inspiring, nurturing environments for our students.” Webster Library Transformation: “It is essential to our growth as a university that we provide inspiring, nurturing environments for our students.”

“It’s not just more study space — which the students clearly required — but more quality space,” says Beaudry, who describes the new décor as joyful, intellectually inspiring with a jazzy carpet.

The transformation makes maximum use of natural light, and includes white finishes and bright colour accents. 

The zero-noise room (in Friends of the Library Room) does not allow laptop computers to answer the need of students for whom tapping on keyboards can be a distraction while they are reading. In the collaboration spaces, in addition to tables and chairs, ottomans, small tables and white boards can be moved according to student groupings.

“This is exactly what students asked for,” says Computation Arts student Charles Bourassa, who sat on the Library Services Fund Committee as a member of the 2014-15 Concordia Student Union.

“It was common for students to circle around the library during exams, looking for a place to sit. Now you can get a seat, and we actually selected the specific chairs during a library furniture survey.”

All these new places to sit raise the question: how do you gain 88 per cent more student space and 27 per cent public space without building another floor — or getting rid of all the books?

“We reconfigured the existing layout by decreasing the office space,” says Beaudry, whose own office will be one third smaller. “Then we removed duplicate books that have not been used for many years and added an eighth shelf to the top of the stacks. We are very proud to provide this exceptional library space to Concordia students.”

Phase 2 of the Webster Library Transformation Project

In Phase 2, which predominantly affects the fifth floor, the library transformation will provide four dissertation writers’ rooms with a lounge and kitchenette for graduate students.

There will also be a designated photocopier/printer/scanner (MFD) for graduate students, as well as lockers and shelving for books. There will be two more group study rooms and three more large reading rooms, with one reserved for graduate students. Delivery is targeted for 2016.

“The transformation is on track and coming to life before our eyes,” Beaudry says. “It dovetails nicely with Concordia’s greater goals — it’s a next-generation tool for success.”


Phase 1 of the Webster Library Transformation opens for students on Monday, Sept. 28 as of 1 p.m.

Follow each phase of the project on the Webster Library Transformation blog.


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