July 11th, 2019

McLaughlin Library turns 50

Opening its doors in 1968, the McLaughlin Library recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.  Over the past year, our team completed substantial renovations to the Library, transforming the space into a bright, colourful, modern and inviting space that focuses on the end users.

The scope included renovations to its entire existing lower and second levels with the goal of improving student spaces, providing additional compact shelving for its prized archival and special collections, enhancing staff work flow and replacing aging infrastructure. On the second floor we transformed the space, designing a makers space to promote innovative study and collaboration while creating a tailored, cohesive experience for users. An inventive solution to the study carrels was particularly impactful in our approach to this space.

The Library is one of the six major concrete buildings on campus that were built by prominent designers on the Canadian and international design scene during the 1960s. Something these buildings have in common is their style—a form of architecture called brutalism—which rose in popularity in the 1960s as a response to the modernism of the 1950s.

Within the archival areas, we worked with stakeholders to highlight the University’s extensive collection of archival materials. The archives are a special draw on campus, therefore we worked to highlight its importance, creating a new public area and dedicated exhibit room. Within the archives there is now improved staff work flow, the space is accessible and we introduced flexible solutions that will help the Library adapt and remain relevant over time. We also provided new furniture, enhanced audio-video, and expanded security within the facility.

While the building has changed over the years, one thing remains the same – it is one of the busiest buildings on campus, seeing approximately 1.5 million visitors annually. The building was originally designed to support 9,000 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students, and to house a collection of 625,000 volumes. “When the Library Master Space Plan was concluded in late 2013, the library was supporting an overall student population of 24,000—the need for space and capacity was greater than ever,” said Kelly Bertrand, director, Library Administrative Services, and chair, Library Building Committee.

Read more about the renovation here.