Creating User-Centred Spaces

Published on November 06, 2017

This fall, Western Libraries is celebrating the completion of two space enhancements. These projects have created inviting, inspiring and collaborative spaces for our students and researchers.

Linda and Walter Zimmerman Access Lab

Linda and Walter Zimmerman Access LabWestern University is home to over 2,500 students with an identified disability. Some of these students require specialized learning spaces that provide assistive technologies or just a quiet space to work. The Access Lab, located in The D.B. Weldon Library, provided this space and assistive technologies, but was an uninviting, drab, and poorly lit space.

Last year, Linda and Walter Zimmerman approached Western Libraries with a desire to make the libraries more accessible to students with disabilities. The Access Lab project was identified as a priority, and the Zimmermans embraced the project and offered generous support.

The space has been renovated from floor to ceiling. New electrically operated height-adjustable desks and other furniture create a variety of spaces for students to study, learn, and socialize.

"The space is very uplifting - it's bright and full of hope," says Ashton Forrest, a Master of Arts in Philosophy student. "I feel like it was designed for me, but it is also customizable for students with a variety of needs."

Allyn & Betty Taylor Library

Taylor LibraryThe Allyn & Betty Taylor Library has emerged from a five-year user consultation and renovation process with a refreshed space that employs new technologies and space design to encourage collaboration as well as independent study.

"From the much better WiFi reception to the study carrels to the more open floorplan, it is a much prettier and more practical space," says Alyssa Podrebarac, a Medical Sciences student. "You can actually spend ten hours here comfortably."

On the main floor, we created six new collaborative learning suites, each with state-of-the-art learning technology. Two porticos have been furnished with comfortable chairs and couches to establish a more casual learning environment. New banquettes along the north windows allow well-lit seating areas for collaborative work. Work on the main floor was completed this summer with a new area in the library entrance for student community groups to engage their fellow students.

On the ground floor, we installed 90 new individual study carrels. New flooring and fresh, colourful paint have made the ground and lower ground floors more welcoming and stimulating places to study and learn. All of these projects were supported by generous gifts from library supporters, including Foundation Western, Western Alumni, the Science Students' Council, and Gretta Grant.