Western’s D.B. Weldon Library is partially reopening its doors to provide between 450 to 500 additional study spaces as students prepare for mid-term exams.
As construction continues in the main and mezzanine floors, the library will open Tuesday, Oct. 12, providing access to study seats across floors two through five, seven days a week. Western students, faculty and staff can also access collections on the second, third and fourth floors.
“We are very excited to be welcoming students back to Weldon,” said Catherine Steeves, vice-provost and chief librarian. “Although it is still a construction zone, we know making these spaces available is critical because work for our students is picking up and exams are approaching.”
Access to Weldon’s ground, main floors and mezzanine are restricted, but Steeves hopes the partial reopening of the building will “give students a tiny glimpse into the new, bright esthetics and a sense of the refreshed space to come.”
The Weldon revitalization project was born out of the Western Libraries Space Master Plan, created in 2017. The university allocated $15 million to fund phase one of the project, which includes constructing a new learning commons, staff space, and installing compact shelving, critical infrastructure upgrades and an environmental retrofit, including new windows and a new HVAC system.
Western Libraries partnered with architecture firm Perkins & Will to help achieve its vision to lighten and brighten the space while maintaining the buildings’ brutalist design.
Weldon will fully reopen at the end of November once the new two-storey learning commons is complete.
New staff space
Construction on the fifth floor is now complete and is the new home for staff. It features a reception area, staff lounge/lunchroom and a workstation area.
“Moving the staff from the mezzanine to the fifth floor was an important preliminary step in increasing the number and kinds of study seats in a new learning commons for our students,” Steeves said.
The new two-storey learning commons will add another 500 seats, almost triple the 168 seats available prior to construction. The furniture, selected in response to a student feedback survey, includes standing tables, white boards with wheels, a variety of seating options, and group study rooms for collaborative learning.
A wooden, circular staircase will connect the main floor and the mezzanine.
The commons will also include a student services hub, a community room, reading lounge, display spaces and family room.
“We created the family room in response to the expressed need of students with young children,” Steeves said. “It’s a large, welcoming space and will give them privacy while they do their work.”
The main floor is being redesigned to “better facilitate community events,” Steeves said. “The multi-purpose community room is completely enclosed with new sound barriers that weren’t there before. We will be able to host receptions and lectures and open it up as study space in high-demand times.”
As Weldon approaches its 50th anniversary in 2023, further changes are being considered.
“We are pleased to meet the growing demand for space with this first phase of the project,” Steeves said. “We hope in the future, with renewed investment, we can refresh the entire library.”