At the official opening of the Children’s Educational Foundation of Canada Commons, President of the Brock Graduate Students’ Association, Shannon Hitchings, said, “Libraries are the heart of any community, and so they should be at a university.”
The new space can be found on the fifth floor of the James A. Gibson Library. Recently renovated, the space has been redesigned as a comfortable, collaborative study space, complete with couches and bean bag chairs.
The learning and study space design features collaborative work spaces, including three new study rooms, several work booths and tables, as well as lounge areas. Also included are long tables divided into workstations, each with its own plug and USB port to allow students to charge laptops or phones. Altogether, the 3600 square foot space features 130 study spots and three group study rooms.
Although the space has been open for student use since February 26, the ribbon was cut at its official opening on March 6. Several integral members to the development and execution of the space attended and offered short speeches about the space, why they decided to renovate part of the fifth floor, and their reactions to the results of the project.
Brock University President Gervon Fearon said that the new space was an “intersection between thought and space.” Fearon focused on the collaborative trends of education and highlighted the ways in which the renovated space accommodated for collaborative learning.
“[Students should] be able to have the space and amenities to be able to do creative work,” he said. Fearon also spoke to Brock’s emphasis on trans-disciplinary education and emphasized the diversity of the Brock population and how the CEFC Commons contributes to that strength that Brock has.
University Librarian Mark Robertson spoke about the importance of libraries in an education space, particularly at Brock. He called the library students’ “home base,” a central physical space during their years at university. Robertson also commented on the community of learners that develops in a library space – how students come together to interact, engage, and assimilate knowledge together. He used the term “disciplinary crossroads” to explain the importance of the library space in a university.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of a project like this is seeing how students discover, embrace and interpret the space — and embrace it they have,” said Robertson, who mentioned how the space met many top student needs, including more study space, natural light, a variety of seating and study lounge areas.
BUSU president Faisal Hejazi commented that during his campaign to run for BUSU president, one of the top complaints he heard was that students didn’t have enough study space. “Brock offers a dynamic and influential learning environment,” said Hejazi. “I believe this [space] will have a direct relationship with academic success and achievement.”
The $460,000 project would not have been possible with a generous donation from the Children’s Educational Foundation of Canada, who donated $263,000. Part of this donation was also put towards the James A. Gibson library’s general collections and archives.
During the short time it has been open, students seem to have been thoroughly enjoying the new study space. They appreciate the modern design, the brightness, and the lounge spaces. Many have said that the new space has good vibes and creates a positive, motivating study environment.
“Libraries should be playgrounds for everybody,” said Kitchings. “Places to make mistakes, discoveries, and intelligent magic.” That is exactly what this space has become.