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Webster Library Transformation

About the project

In January 2015, Concordia’s R. Howard Webster Library begins a profound transformation that will reshape its physical spaces and learning environment in line with those of next- generation libraries. A next-generation library provides:

  • Space for active and collaborative learning; an on-campus social learning environment.
  • Space where students take command of their own learning.
  • Opportunities for intensive study.

This project – an important academic priority – is part of Concordia’s overall plan to reinforce the Libraries’ ability to support learning and research activities; provide a foundation for intellectual life within Concordia, and foster a culture of research and innovation, and collaborative learning.

Addressing the longstanding need for quality study spaces is an important element of this project. This was concern raised by students in university-wide surveys on library spaces, services and collections conducted in 2010 and 2013.

Project need

When the Webster Library opened in 1992, Concordia had a population of 16,000 students. Today, the student population has nearly tripled, which means a dramatic increase in people who visit the Library – an average of 2.2 million visitors per year.

According to the Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche et de la Science, the current total library space at the Webster Library and Vanier Library is 38 per cent below established norms, which is a shortage of 9,500 m2.

At present, only .57 m2 of space is allocated for each full-time equivalent (FTE) student. This ranks as the lowest space per FTE among comparable Quebec and Canadian university libraries.

Project approval

In June 2013, after reviewing preliminary plans for the renovation and expansion of the R. Howard Webster Library, Concordia’s Board of Governors gave its approval for the preparation of detailed design plans.

On October 22, the project reached another milestone with the approval by the Board, during its closed session, to proceed with the next phase. This includes the awarding of the construction, professional and supply contracts following the tender process.

Project funding

The majority of project funding is coming from the Government of Quebec under budget envelopes earmarked for university infrastructure projects and equipment. There is also a substantial financial contribution from students.

11 types of study spaces
  1. Tables for silent study
  2. Graduate students study spaces
  3. Carrels for silent study
  4. Classrooms and technology sandbox
  5. Tables with desktop computers
  6. Consultation rooms
  7. Multi-functional/social areas
  8. Seminar and thesis defense room
  9. Group study rooms
  10. Multi-functional / zero-noise room
  11. Presentation practice rooms
Construction phases
Phase 1: LB3 East January 2015 - July 2015
Phase 2: LB5 July 2015 - March 2016
Phase 3: LB2 May 2016 - January 2017
Phase 4: LB3 West and LB4 East March 2017 - October 2017

A series of consultations will be held during the project’s lifecycle to obtain feedback on furniture and technology.

Library access

The Webster Library will remain open throughout the renovation project. We will contain most of the renovations inside noise-insulated walls to reduce potential disruptions.

Students will also have access to the Georges P. Vanier Library on the Loyola Campus and the Grey Nuns Reading Room on the Sir George Williams Campus.

Keep informed

We will provide regular updates and news via our social media channels, through the NOW newsletters and on our Webster Library Transformation Blog: https://library.concordia.ca/webster-transformation/

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1. What is the Webster Library Transformation project?
  • This project will address a longstanding need for more study space for students.
  • However, it is also part of Concordia’s overall plan to reinforce the library’s role to:
    • support learning and research activities;
    • provide a foundation for intellectual life within Concordia; and
    • foster a culture of research and innovation, and collaborative learning.
2. How will this project benefit students?
  • We will be expanding our study seats by 114 per cent. This project will also improve the quality and variety of spaces, improving the functionality and technology to create an intellectually stimulating learning environment for our students.
  • Students will also be able to participate in more active and collaborative learning activities through new quality study spaces that will have more natural light, wide-open spaces and modern design.
  • Graduate students will have designated study spaces.
  • Students will have greater access to digital scholarly publications.
3. Does Concordia really need more study space?
  • Since the Webster Library opened its doors more than 20 years ago, the university’s enrolment has almost tripled (from 16,000 students to 46,000 in 2014).
  • In 2010 and 2013 university-wide surveys on library spaces, services and collections, Concordia students said a lack of quality study space was an issue that needed to be addressed.
  • As a result of this project, we will increase the number of study seats by 114 per cent.
  • The project will also bring Concordia’s total library space per student in line with norms established by the Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche et de la Science.
  • Based on norms set by the ministry, Concordia’s Libraries have the least amount of space per square meter among full-time equivalent students in relation to other comparable Quebec universities.
4. Why is Concordia undertaking this project now, especially at a time of budget compressions?
  • In addressing budget compressions, Concordia has made a commitment to ensure that key academic priorities continue to be funded. We must make strategic investments to support and advance our academic mission, and be responsive to the needs of our current and future students.
  • The majority of project funding is not coming from Concordia’s operational budget but from the Government of Quebec, specifically from a budget earmarked for infrastructure projects and equipment. This budget is not affected by current budget compressions.
  • There is also a substantial investment by students.
5. What types of spaces will the project provide?
  • Students will have access to individual study seats and zero-noise spaces, silent reading rooms, a social learning environment, practice rooms for individual and team presentations, collaboration rooms with digital inputs and large high-definition screens, as well as spaces reserved for graduate students.
6. What is the project timeline?
  • Construction will begin in January 2015 and is expected to be completed in December 2017.
  • There are various phases to this project, which will be shared with the Concordia community via various communications tools, including the NOW newsletter and a blog on the Libraries web page.
7. What kind of disruptions should faculty, staff and students expect?
  • Concordia is currently finalizing its project plans and will share information in advance of potential disruptions.
8. Where can I get more information?
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Updated: Thursday 14 September 2017
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