As the new year commences, so does another semester at Trent: another semester where students scramble to find places to study after the largest and most popular study space on campus, Bata Library, closed its doors. The now fully operational Student Centre has begun to pull its weight in accommodating a new space for students to congregate. However, the absence of Bata Library is still palpable, giving the huge fenced-off structure an almost eerie, Stephen King-type feeling as you walk by.
As we commence the eighth month of construction, Arthur thought it prudent to check in on things at Bata, and find out whether or not construction is right on schedule, or falling behind.
Arthur reached out first to TCSA president Brandon Remmelgas for comment on how on-track the renovations were.
Remmelgas stated that at a Board of Governors meeting before the holiday break, the status of the Bata renovations were said to be, “on-schedule and on-budget.”
In an effort to get right to the source, Arthur spoke to Trent University head librarian, Robert Clarke. And despite the closure of Bata Library, Clarke says that he is busier than ever at this time with running satellite locations for library services, as well as acting as one of the leaders in the organization of the new Bata site in an effort to optimize the learning experience.
Arthur asked if Clarke would be able to comment on the progress on the library as of today, compared to the promise of the project being “on-schedule and on-budget” in early December.
“As of right now the project is on time, and it’s on budget. So it is proceeding as planned, and we do not anticipate at this time for that status to change.”
When pressed on when exactly the doors of Bata will be open again, Clarke stated that while the doors will be open and renovations completed by April 30, it will still take time for the library to be fully operational after books, furniture, shelving, and electronics are moved in and installed. However, Clarke states that returning will be a much less extensive process than it was to move everything out, and likens the moving in process to “just bringing home groceries and putting them in the cupboard.”
After the strong testimony from Mr. Clarke as well as the Board of Governors, it seems likely that everything is as it seems, right on schedule. As of right now, we can sleep easy knowing that after a one year intermission, Bata library will be back better than ever come summer time, and on into the new year.
After the issue of how firm the reopen date was settled, Arthur probed Mr. Clarke on what new features students could look forward to upon the grand re-opening. Clarke was happy to elaborate on this question and proceeded with a tone that could not be mistaken for anything other than excitement for the new facility.
“Some of the things that will be of interest to the students would be the number of new study group rooms. There will be twelve new study group rooms, and also a space we’re calling a practice presentation room which will be a large room that has all the technology to connect any device to a smart board, film yourself, and analyze your presentation. As well as a green, living wall, which will be near the elevator on the first floor.”
One brand new feature of the library that Clarke went on about in great detail was something that he called the Makers Space, where students and faculty will be able to team up with librarians and library support workers to work on visual projects with tools such as developing virtual museums, 3-D scanning and imagery on screen – just to name a few features of the new space.
Although optimizing student experience and technological advancements were important for the new site, Clarke says that the paramount concern throughout the rebuild process was to achieve maximum environmental efficiency for the new facility.
“The whole building is dedicated to environmental stability, which is a big deal on campus here. So along with the green wall, the whole building system: from the use of gray water for washrooms, air quality, and lighting –
everything has been put in place with the environment in mind.”
While we are all anxious for the library to open up, it is easy to focus on one aspect of this issue – opening day. However, while scheduling is important, budget is also a staple in this issue. While most of the funds allocated to this project are coming from both the federal and provincial government, a small portion of these funds are coming out of the pockets of students: much like the Student Centre, much like the Athletic Centre, and many more big ticket items. The bills are piling up, and it is up to us to ensure our money is being spent efficiently.