We went to visit the new UBC Law Library as part of our planning and design class, and the librarian involved with the building project was also kind enough to give us a talk on the process.
Gone with the Old, In with the New
It was great to see the new law building, especially having visited the old one. The old building was called a “Concrete Bunker” because it really did look like one. The building was in such poor state. The roof was leaky, the water would run on the inside walls, and the building was famous for having buckets lining the halls! So, a new law building has been a long time coming, and it’s definitely a big improvement.
Moving is always a good opportunity to weed. Other than weeding, the staff also took on the big project to reclassify a lot of the material that was not already in LC classification.
Some might consider shelving boring, but the details that goes into making such a simple choice is quite interesting. For one, a careful choice was made on the type of compact shelving to use. The chosen one is very easy to use, manual, and seems to be magnetic (and having used electronic ones, I prefer manual). Careful measurements were also made since they were smaller than regular shelving (33″ as opposed to 36″) in order to accommodate all the books with fill space.
The open stacks shelving was the standard 36″ in a nice wood with lighting that went across (perpendicular) instead of in between (parallel) the shelves. The shelves were also filled with approximately a 50% fill, but of course it differed depending on the section from 20-70%. You can see how neat it looks right now because of the careful calculations done by the librarian.
The reference area also has shelves with a built-in mini-table at the end of each end for convenience.
Reading, Study, & Computer Spaces
There are various areas for reading and studying. There is the big reading room and each floor also has a couple of smaller areas with lower reading love-seats. The top floor primarily has study carrels, but the open type instead of the closed ones (divider on three sides). On the second floor, there is a computer lab area with a print room, next to the teaching room. The reference room also has long tables with chairs where you can study.
Making a Space Pleasant
A lot of what I liked about the library was the pleasantness of it. The lighting was nice (it points towards the ceiling so it’s not direct), the high ceilings with the stained glass, the stairs (are kind of a shiny granite) and the artwork. There are no paintings or sculptures, but there are the stone backgrounds to the signs for example. My favourite piece was the donor “wall” just in front of the entrance which was actually made of glass balls with names written on them.
Overall, it was just a very pleasant space with some nice views whether looking back in the building or to the outside.