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photo collage of renovated fourth floor space, including Larry Alford and Russell Morrison

Fourth Floor Renovations Let the Sun Shine In

It started with a need for new student spaces. After conducting focus groups, surveys and consultations with students, we knew U of T students wanted study spaces with natural light, comfortable seating, access to computers and wireless network and conveniently located to other resources. Thanks to a generous donation by Russell and Katherine Morrison, who have already made significant contributions to St. George campus in the past decade – including Morrison Hall residence at University College – we now have a beautiful new space for study and collaboration for students – and for CTSI and Robarts Library Reference Services, too. On October 2, U of T Libraries and CTSI officially opened our newly renovated space that also includes study areas and a computer lab for students.

As the university has changed, Robarts Library has followed suit. Students’ needs change as the community diversifies, technologies evolve and academia grows to encompass more views, more areas of study and, quite simply, more students. These latest renovations reflect that need but as Cheryl Misak, Vice-President and Provost, said, “Of course, this new space is also about teaching.”

We now have two computer labs and the Robert H. Blackburn Room for training, workshops and events. All of these rooms have been in full use since the end of August when CTSI held its Back-to-School workshop series. Staff, instructors and students have all given them high marks. The spaces are flexible (easy to move furniture around to suit workshop needs) and technology is available and accessible (not to mention functional).

The architect firm Gow Hastings – as well as everyone else involved in the design and coordination of these renovations – did a marvellous job listening to all our concerns, and our wish list, so that we can all – staff and students alike – enjoy a comfortable and welcoming work environment. And the sunlight, let’s not forget the sunlight! This new space also provides more opportunities for CTSI and Reference Services Librarians to cross paths. Not only is it nice to know your neighbours, we’ve already started a number of projects together simply because we run into each other in the hall and start a conversation. Let the collaborations continue!

The next step – hopefully not too far down the road – is the Robarts Common, five floors of student space to be added to the west side of the library and accessible from inside Robarts as well as the street. According to Chief Librarian Larry Alford, “The new five-storey pavilion will become a new face of Robarts, opening up the west side of the building to the street, bring a flood of natural light to the lower floors and make the overall environment more inviting, accessible and productive for students.”

Kathleen Olmstead