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Though the halls of Mount Royal University may have been quieter over the summer months, the Library was unusually hectic.

During the months of May and June, Library staff held planning sessions geared at improving the library learning environment. By late June and into the summer months the physical changes started to take shape.

library's improved its use of space
University Librarian Carol Shepstone stands near some of the extra linear feet of shelving, which not only provides additional space for the Library's expanding collection, but also serves as a transitional "wall" and sound barrier leading to quieter study spaces.

"The Library renovations over the summer months came out of a growing concern from students saying there weren't enough quiet spaces and group study areas," says University Librarian Carol Shepstone.

"We really wanted to find a way to better accommodate different types of study patterns and library uses all within the same limited space, without creating conflict."

Although the Library was not able to move or build additional walls, given the physical limitations of the space, student and employee consultation led to creative and cost-effective ways to develop better spaces for student learning.

Crucial feedback gathered throughout the year through consultation with the Student Library Advisory Council, Student Learning Spaces group, and comments from a student-led Mount Royal Library Facebook page also played a key role in guiding the Library improvements.

"As we don't yet have confirmation for when the new Library and Learning Centre will be built, it's really important that we address as best we can the existing space and student needs," says Shepstone.

"Since the launch of the degrees we're seeing more students coming into the Library and they're staying longer and asking more questions. Students are more focused and committed to doing a great job and we really need to provide a supportive environment to help them achieve their goals."

It takes a village to build a Library

It took a concerted effort of over 20 Custodial staff, 40 Library staff, and individuals from the Departments of Facilities Management, Facilities Planning and Occupational Health & Safety to accomplish the following:

- move more than 205,000 items (essentially every item in the Library collection) at least once to accommodate the reuse of shelving and the addition of new shelving
- construct and deconstruct more than 4,400 linear feet of shelving
- assist with design and electrical work ensuring all renovations met institutional standards and regulations
- pack and move more than 500 boxes to storage
- source new furniture for the space and coordinate a logistically complex project.

How do the changes improve the Library?

The increased space allowed for the addition of 30 more study seats and 98 more electrical outlets, which are high in demand among students with lap tops.

library revamped
Starting this fall, bar-height seating will run along the back windows where the black arm chairs are currently located. The bar-height seating will accommodate more people and provide beautiful views of the courtyard.

The extra linear feet of shelving not only provides additional space for the Library's expanding collection to accommodate third and fourth year students, but also serve as a transitional "wall" and sound barrier leading to quieter study spaces near the back of the Library.

The Library also converted the viewing room, which was formerly used as an occasional classroom, into a quiet study room.

For those looking for group study areas, the Library will be installing three or four high-backed booth units (similar to those you would find in a restaurant) complete with wall-mounted computer monitors to facilitate group work and discussion.

Another new fixture you'll find in the Library this fall is the addition of bar-height seating which will run along the back windows where the black arm chairs used to be. The bar-height seating will accommodate more people and provide beautiful views of the courtyard.

Shepstone anticipates the majority of the Library changes will be completed before the start of classes with a few wrapping up by early fall.

"I think the diversity of space is important," says Shepstone. "Students need to know that they can come to the Library and find quiet space but not be excluded if they need to work in groups.

"We were able to make changes to the Library using many of the students' suggestions - their feedback really made a difference."

- Jondrea De Ruyter, Aug. 26, 2010