At a time when the university is ramping up its international strategy and turning its gaze outward, it is also looking in – aiming to bring the world to Western by way of renewed library spaces that will foster the sharing of diverse knowledge and culture on campus.
The Global Library Space Project, an initiative of Western Libraries, will begin with a renewal of the Allyn & Betty Taylor Library, with a pilot project of an Asian-themed space, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the region through artwork, stories, artifacts and displays.
“We want our library space to be evocative of a global experience, to inspire the students of different ways of thinking, of being and of heritage. We want there to be that cultural place that makes you think you’re part of a big picture here at Western,” said Sherry Foster, alumni and development officer for Western Libraries.
The ultimate goal of the project is to create a series of similar, culturally themed, learning-centered spaces that will give Western students a global experience. The updated study spaces will feature cultural displays and artifacts and give Western’s diverse student population a place to celebrate a multifaceted heritage.
“Western Libraries is the perfect venue to bring the world to Western. Not only can students share discovery and ideas through our learning spaces; with this new initiative, they can also share their experiences and culture,” said Joyce Garnett, university librarian.
The Global Library Space Project kicked off in October, with the first donation coming from Allan and Susanne Quan, the former having worked, for three decades, in the cataloguing department of Western Libraries.
The first round of fundraising looks to raise $50,000 ($1,000 from 50 individuals). The library will then use that money to begin the structural renovations and repurposing of space in the Taylor library.
Allan Quan, founding president of the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC)-London Chapter, said it was his duty to give back to Western Libraries.
Together with his wife, the former principal of the London Chinese School, a former educator at Woodland Heights Public School and former chair and president of CCNC, Quan has been an integral part of London’s Chinese-Canadian community.
The couple has given time, money and efforts to support both the Chinese community at large and the Chinese student population at Western. The Chinese Students Association even named the couple honorary members.
“The Chinese community in Canada and at Western is big, and there are a lot of Chinese doctors and professors here (at Western). Whenever I need something, they all get behind me and support me. I owe this (donation) to the Chinese community and the Western Libraries,” Quan said.
Western Libraries will honour Quan’s contribution – the first to the Global Library Space Project – with a commemorative bookplate.
“Having Allan step up as our first donor to this project, and in turn, being our initial honouree within Western Libraries’ International Bookplate Series is just so meaningful, given his many years of dedicated service to Western Libraries,” Garnett said.