Building a better Library
The case for an extension was clear. Points made in a submission, Scholarly Spaces in 2003 included:
- Student numbers had increased from 7,964 in 1988 to 20,519 in 2003
- Simply finding a seat had become difficult in busy periods
- Queues for computers had grown ever longer
- Collection space was at capacity in most areas of the building
- Facilities were inadequate to support the changed ways in which students work
- Purpose-built labs were needed to support hands-on teaching of information literacy.
The project was approved for commencement in late 2005.
Key aims reflected the pressing need for more study places, collection space and improved computer access. The opportunity was taken, however, to achieve a number of other long-held goals:
- A lighter, more transparent, welcoming entrance
- A large foyer to improve traffic flow
- Flexible spaces to accommodate future changes, recognising that for the foreseeable future the building will house a hybrid library, blending print and digital resources
- Wireless and wired modes of computer access to support preferred access modes such as laptops and PDAs
- Attractive and comfortable physical surroundings to support research and teaching and learning
- Redesign of service points and key process areas for improved efficiency
- Relocation of as many staff as possible previously housed on the ground floor to a common staff area supportive of teamwork.
Project goals also aimed to cause the minimum disruption to building users and to keep the community informed of changes which were numerous as collections moved, stairways closed, and entrances relocated. Ear plugs were made available during noisy periods and staff were proactive in helping find quieter areas.
A further objective was to complete the project within the agreed budget and specified time frame. The building was in fact completed earlier than scheduled and budget variations were kept to a minimum.
Library Stage 1
Floor space: 4,000m2
Journal subscriptions: 251
College Librarian: Jeffrey Hazell
Library staff: 16
UOW staff: 94 academic staff
The original three-storey Library building was colloquially known as The Bunker. The Reader Services Department – the equivalent of today’s Information and Research Services Team – was based here, whilst Acquisitions and Cataloguing remained in the Library Annexe of Building 8.
Library Stage 2
Floor space: 5,700m2
Journal subscriptions: 2,552
University Librarian: Jeffrey Hazell
Library staff: 46
UOW staff: 664
Stage 2 saw the extension of all levels to the south and the addition of the first floor balcony. The entrance faced onto the Central Square, which would later become the Duckpond.
In 1981 the building was named to recognise the founding Vice-Chancellor of the University, Michael Birt.
Library Stage 3
Floor space: 10,400m2
Journal subscriptions: 3,709
University Librarian: John Shipp
Library staff: 61
UOW staff: 1,143
Floor space was doubled during Stage 3, through an extension to the western side of the building. This involved significant internal changes and reconfiguration of collections. The leadlight Australian Birds Series was installed in the new entryway, bringing light and colour to the front of the Library.
Library Stage 4
Reorienting the entrance and service points from east to north meant extensive preparation and relocation work for Library staff intent on maintaining optimal services and access during the construction period.
- 7,488 low-use journal volumes and 70 study carrels moved to offsite storage
- 8,500 reference collection items and 1,000 kits and audiovisual items weeded and integrated with lending collection
- Reorganisation of complete journal collection on Level 2 (184,200 volumes)
- Weeding, move and reorganisation of large compactus on Level 2 and relocation of 2,700 items in thesis compactus on Ground Level
- Re-shelving of monograph collection to provide space for Link with Student Central Computing Laboratories (499,000 volumes)
- Re-organisation of Archives and weeding of outdated University records
- Special Collections moved to temporary location
- Rearrangement of Law Collection
- Staff workspaces rearranged and refurbished. Information and Research Services Team (18 staff) and Lending and E-readings Team (11 staff) moved to main staff area
- Rearrangement of Archives office and Rare Books Room
|2004||Capital funding approved for 2006|
|Dec 2005||Appointment of Graham Bell Bowman Architects|
|Oct 2006||Contract awarded to OneBuild Constructions|
|Nov 2006||Stage 1 – External demolition and construction begins. Access tunnel constructed|
Stage 2 - Link to Student labs in ITS building completed
External façade, stairwells and internal construction on Levels 1 and 2
|Oct 2007||Stage 3 – Services move to new location, demolition and rebuild of old foyer, refurbish existing interiors. External paving and finishes, demolish tunnel|
The Library construction included:
- 110 tonnes of structural steel
- 28 tonnes of reinforcing steel
- 530 cubic metres of concrete
- 1,850 square metres of glazing
Content by: University Librarian