Construction starts at U of M library

Students could face difficulty studying in the Elizabeth Dafoe Library this semester as the early phases of construction started in December and is expected to continue until the middle of April.

Scaffolding has been erected and some floor tiles have been removed as part of the first stages of a major upgrade to the library’s main floor.

Noisy prep work that cannot be done while the library is in use is being done at night so until mid-April the library will close at 9 p.m.

Areas set to receive upgrades include the main entrance to Dafoe, the Carolyn Sifton Wing, the circulation and reference service areas, the washrooms and the information commons.

The renovations include moving the entrance, upgrading the heating, lighting and electrical capacities, combining circulation and reference help into one service, adding a self-serve check out and installing a self-serve reserve room.

Karen Adams, director of libraries at the University of Manitoba, said they are upgrading the library to modernize the services and because the physical building is in need of repair.

“It is necessary to upgrade simply because we’re trying to make for a better student experience,” said Adams.

The university chose to upgrade the main floor of Dafoe library because it gets the most traffic, Adams added.

According to Adams, the renovation will give the library 40 new study spaces, better furniture and better services. Adams said it is important to note that the upgrade does not include the entire main floor.

“We’re still woefully lacking group study space,” she said.

Adams said she wants to see a second phase of upgrades that would include installation of group study spaces against the back wall of the library.

She said she hopes this upgrade will be the start of many renovations to come but that depends on whether the library can get further funding.

The main floor of the library will be closed when major construction takes place over the summer.

Adams said the library is considering adding a separate entrance to the other floors of the library or moving their materials when the main floor is closed.

The construction is “bound to have some impact” on student and professor use of the library, she said.

“We hope that whatever impact it has will be worth it on Sept. 1 when it opens and looks completely different.”

Nicole Michaud-Oystruk, head of the Elizabeth Dafoe Library, said it is an extremely exciting development.

Michaud-Oystryk said the library wants to upgrade to accommodate the changing needs of students.

New features like self-serve circulation kiosks and an open access reserve collection will allow students to avoid line-ups by checking materials out on their own, she said.

Michaud-Oystryk said the Learning Assistance Centre’s writing tutors will be integrated into the new service desk and will work with library staff.

Miriam Unruh, director of the Learning Assistance Centre, said she is “delighted” with the upgrades because they are providing a place for writing tutors.

“There will now be a permanent, established, space for academic support in the library,” she said.

Kara Loewen, an arts student who studies at Dafoe three times a week, said she expects to be disturbed by the early construction work.

“You always hear banging and it’s not too bad but I’m sure it will be a little bit frustrating.”

Loewen said she thinks the library is looking “kind of old” and that updating it is a good idea.

Ali MacQuarrie, a University 1 student who studies in the library three or four times a week, said she has not been disturbed by the construction so far and she doesn’t think she will be “as long as they try to keep it down.”

MacQuarrie said she thinks the bathrooms in the library are in need of improvement.

“They’re just always really crowded and they are awkward to get in and out of,” she said.