Map and Data Centre charts new course for Western Libraries

The Western Libraries story started a new chapter this week as the official opening of the new Map and Data Centre in the revamped lower level of the D.B. Weldon Library was celebrated by the Western community.

The new space, bright, airy, accessible and open has been decked out with the latest technologies, especially in its new electronic instructional room, said Robin Keirstead, library archivist and acting university librarian.

“This space is an example of how we are working to create 21st century learning and collaborative spaces to maintain and support research,” he said, adding the rich and diverse collection of maps and other resources deserves to be highlighted in such a modern space.

What’s more, Keirstead continued, the space is a fantastic reflection of Western Libraries’ Global Space initiative, which aims to promote the sharing of knowledge in diverse and internationally themed settings in libraries on campus.

The flexible, diverse and vibrant space in the new Map and Data Centre will reflect those who use it across campus, Keirstead said.

The transition to the new Maps and Data Centre began five years ago, added Nicole Nolan, acting assistant university librarian, when maps and data had two separate homes in the Social Sciences Centre.

“This is a special space, and not part of one faculty. It’s a subject that supports every discipline and belongs to it all,” she said.

“It’s a fabulous example of how space was built to facilitate a service and how service benefits from how space has been cleverly designed. It’s where map intersects with data, where technology intersects with people, and where physical intersects with digital.”

The new digital instruction room within the Map and Data Centre, named after former university librarian Joyce Garnett and her late husband, Ron, is a testament to how a space was designed with users in mind, said Mike McLean of Facilities Management, who helped plan and design the space.

All of the power and data in the electronic instruction room is housed beneath a raised, accessible floor, he said. Cables and outlets don’t obstruct the bright and open learning space.

Colours and materials were also kept in mind to create the warm and open space in Weldon’s lower level, working with concrete walls that do not move and sustainable, reusable glass walls that allow natural light to shine through, McLean continued.

Keirstead welcomed Garnett, who attended the official opening, recognizing her years of service to Western Libraries and her continued donations to both the university and its libraries.

“During her 15 years as university librarian, Joyce saw and oversaw many significant changes to libraries and library services, most notably those brought on by the impact of technology,” he said, noting the dedication of the new instructional space to the Garnetts is fitting.

She echoed his sentiments.

“It’s particularly appropriate to have Ron’s name associated with this informational and learning space because he himself was a global individual,” she said.

“He travelled widely; he enjoyed different types of people and was extremely wonderful to be with. In addition to his global adventures, he was also a great lover of technology. I’m ashamed to say I came to the iPhone about a year and a half ago. If Ron had still been around, I would have had it from day one,” she laughed.

“This is a collaborative, active learning space and that’s what libraries are all about – past, present and future.”