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Students rate furniture options for the new libraryMRU students may have felt a little bit like Goldilocks as they were trying out new furniture proposed for the Riddell Library and Learning Centre (RLLC). But when it came to choosing the perfect study space to settle into, they were vocal about what felt right for them. Hundreds of students recently tested various desks, tables and chairs to prepare for the summer 2017 move-in date into the new building, and Library staff received nearly 300 written comments on the proposed fittings’ comfort, style and functionality.

“We are really excited to be able to reach out to students and get their direct feedback on furniture options,” explains MRU University Librarian Carol Shepstone.

“It is students, after all, who will be using the furniture, so it is critical that we get their feedback in order to get it right.”

Furniture testing review

Examples of some of the written comments received from students after testing various desks, tables and chairs for the new Riddell Library and Learning Centre. .

~Photo provided by the Library

Students were asked to comment on the furniture options overall and to test nearly 20 different pieces currently being considered. Choices included semi-enclosed private study booths, study stations with movable parts like tabletops and arm rests, standup desks, and group work areas that have removable dividers and large monitors for presentations.

From the size of desk surfaces and the location of plugins to the placement of cup holders and coat hooks, no detail was overlooked by students. The feedback was mainly positive, with many students calling the furniture “stylish and versatile” and noting that it provides the comfort and privacy they need to concentrate. Some found certain pieces of furniture uncomfortable or too small, and a few felt that the furniture is “too modern” to suit the MRU campus.


MRU President David Docherty (left), University Librarian Carol Shepstone and DIALOG associate John Souleles (right) testing a new piece of furniture.

~Photo provided by the Library

MRU's Facilities Management, which is overseeing furniture selection with the RLLC’s architect, DIALOG, also sought feedback on office furniture from other groups relocating to Riddell. These include Student Learning Services, START, the Academic Development Centre, the Department of Education, and the Institute for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

All of the feedback will be taken into account when Facilities Management and DIALOG, working closely with building partners, make the final choices on furniture before the end of December.

“This is one of the first of what will hopefully be many successful collaborations,” says Associate University Librarian Francine May.

The furniture options were kept on display for use by students in the existing library until Nov. 30.

“Students were really eager to participate in this process. We didn’t even have to ask,” May says. “It was great to see them so engaged.”

Dec. 12, 2016 ― Melissa Rolfe