Many Scarborough students seem unaware of the impending demolition of their campus’ library and the difficulty in accessing library services that may result.
While supportive of the new library and Academic Resources Centre (ARC) to be erected in its place, Sundeep Singh, president of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union, says information has been lacking and questions remain about library services in the interim.
“The university has acted very poorly in communicating the entire situation,” he said, noting that not enough has been done to inform students.
Associate principal Robert Campbell notes, however, that the administration has a web page dedicated to the project, a writeup posted by computer terminals and a model of the new library positioned by the entrance of the current Bladen Library.
The demolition will begin in June to make way for ARC, which will more than double the study space and include a 500-seat lecture theatre, expanded writing, learning and multimedia labs, accessibility services and counselling services. The construction and new equipment for the ARC will cost the university over $20 million, and it is scheduled to be opened for the 2003/2004 academic year.
The project was originally planned to be conducted over two years, to keep a portion of the library open and operating while other parts of it were being renovated. However, this proved structurally impossible, and in an attempt to reduce stress to staff and students, the project was moved up one year by completely demolishing Bladen Library.
Next year, students will still receive help with their research from staff and will have access to high-demand materials, but they will have to order their books. Study spaces will be relocated, possibly to portables.
SCSU is unhappy with this solution. “Just the environment of a portable is quite gloomy,” said Singh.
He believes a portable’s lack of warmth and ventilation will be a problem. Singh also pointed out that having to go outdoors continuously will be a difficulty, because UTSC students are used to having each wing of the campus connected.
Singh suggested that a faculty lounge could be used for temporary study space, instead of portables. He said a faculty member suggested the idea, noting that it would not cause much of a disturbance to faculty because of its minimal use.
Campbell said the lounge is a little isolated for study space, and might be better used to store the stacks of books from the renovated sections of the library.
The SCSU is also concerned about how decisions are being made. Singh said he was contacted by faculty members and students who were dismayed that Bladen Library is going to be closed.
Despite the inconveniences, students believe the new facilities are worth the hassle. A quick poll of 10 students revealed that nine think that the advantages of the new ARC outweigh the disadvantages of construction.