The multi-year, multi-floor renovation of Allyn and Betty Taylor Library will finish later this month.
The library’s most significant changes came with the reconstruction of its main floor, which finished in the fall of last year. The floor is now brightly lit and sprawling with cubicles, large tables and more comfortable seats.
Outside of the seating changes, media rooms were added along the edges of the floor as a means for students to meet and practice presentations. And following requests from student groups, a large counter by the front entrance of the floor can be booked by groups who wish to self-promote.
Similar changes were made to Taylor’s ground floor. But the floor also features the new Collaborative Learning Centre — a sequestered room with several usable TVs. The room has a higher acceptable volume level than the rest of the otherwise silent floor.
Once ground-lower is finished being retiled later this month, the renovations will be complete.
According to Harriet Rykse, Western University’s associate chief librarian, the changes were inspired by student requests.
“The intention and the goal of the Taylor renovations has been very much focused on the student experience in the library,” she said.
The requests came from formal consultation between Taylor’s head librarian and student groups, like the Science Students' Council, and from responses by individuals through channels like Western’s LibQUAL survey and feedback forms on the Western Libraries' website.
The most common requests are reflected by recent changes: students asked for more study space, for a greater variety of seating arrangements and for better lighting throughout the floors.
Alex Xiao, a fifth-year medical sciences student, prefers Taylor to the D. B. Weldon Library due to its atmosphere.
“I usually come here because it’s a lot more focused,” he said. “It’s just rows and rows of cubicles, and people only come here to study.”
He said even on Taylor’s new main floor, where talking is allowed, the environment is more focused than most floors in Weldon. He was studying in the learning centre to make phone calls between studying.
Megha Verma, another fifth-year medical sciences student, usually visits Taylor since it's the library closest to her classes. Verma was indifferent towards the recent renovations at Taylor and cared more for the resources already at Taylor.
“If I’m writing an essay, I’ll go to Weldon because they have the right resources for that,” she said. “If I’m working on science, then I’ll go [to Taylor] because of their textbooks on loan.”
Both students said they were aware of the renovations while they were ongoing, but were not seriously inconvenienced by the subsequent closures, which often shut down entire floors.
Currently, the bottom floor remains closed, but there are no other major renovations or shutdowns elsewhere in campus libraries.
Rykse said that library officials are in the process of completing a “space master plan”: a roadmap that summarizes the high-level development goals for all library facilities on campus.
“We’re hoping to have something to share with the wider community fairly soon. We’re getting close to completing it,” she said.