By Kalinowski, Tim on January 17, 2020.
Lethbridge College officially unveiled its renovated Buchanan Library space at a special media event on Thursday.
The $3-million project opened up more space, created a more comfortable Learning Commons area, added a 3D printing station, incorporated a learning cafe, and integrated the college’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Innovation into the library space. The project also added a permanent gallery display area where the college’s valuable collection of Canadian art from the library’s namesake Buchanan Collection, including works by the Group of 7, will be publicly displayed on a rotating basis.
Elder Peter Weasel Moccasin gave a Blackfoot name to the library to celebrate the occasion, calling it “Niitsitapi’ksimpstaan” which translates as “Real Thinking.” Weasel Moccasin explained to the Blackfoot people real thinking is the kind of thinking you do that allows you to adapt and survive no matter the challenges which come your way.
Lethbridge College president and CEO Paula Burns said the newly renovated library and learning commons reflects a fundamental shift in the paradigm going on in the post-secondary realm.
“We know that student teaching and learning shifts and changes over time,” she said, “and a lot of the staff in the library noticed how things are changing in what the students need – more access to laptops, more support on how you actually do research on the internet, and also the physical environment and the nature of the physical environment which supports teaching and learning.”
The rethinking of the space started in 2008, confirmed Burns, but that rethinking only crystallized in a physical concept with a budget attached within the last year or so.
“I know the students enjoy the new space,” said Burns. “The brightness of it, the comfy chairs, a little bit of a different structure. There has been a lot of things that have made this really a flexible learning space for students.”
For Jaclyn Doherty, dean for the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Innovation, the new integrated Buchanan Library space finally gives her centre a permanent home, and a permanent home which is tailor-made to fit it.
“This is something which has been years coming, but I think the priority for us was really being able to serve our learning communities in the best way we can,” she said. “Up until this point, we were scattered all across the campus. So if faculty needed support, they could have gone to five different places. Or if students needed support they had to go to different places. So we really wanted to create a place, a hub, where all of our learning community’s needs could be met in one location.”
Referencing the name given by Elder Weasel Moccasin, Doherty hoped the new space would foster greater collaboration and interaction between students, and would ultimately encourage students to explore different avenues of thinking through that collaboration and interaction.
“With ‘real thinking,’ we don’t always walk in a straight line – we will be going down one pathway and all of sudden something else happens where we have to pivot and go in a different direction,” she said. “Learning is messy. Learning has to be something which takes us in different directions.”
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