‘Library of the future’ opens after several delays

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The University of Calgary took another step into the future Oct. 20 with the opening of the new Taylor Family Digital Library.

Though faced with several mechanical and engineering issues that delayed the grand opening for several months, the newest addition to the U of C’s campus is now open to students and the public.

“This is a gift, not only to the University of Calgary and the city of Calgary, but also to the province of Alberta,” said Premier Alison Redford.

“It’s wonderful to think we live in this province with community leaders who can set a vision, and I think that is what the Taylor family did.”

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Leeanne Morrow, head of instruction and reference services at the University of Calgary, shows off some of the Taylor Family Digital Library’s new touchscreen surfaces at Thursday’s grand opening.

Photo by: BAJ VisserThe library is the new home for a number of university services, including an extensive video game collection, the University Archives, and the new Nickle Arts Museum.

It will also house more than 600,000 books and journals, which are available to anyone with an Alberta Library card.

Work on the Taylor Family Digital Library started in 2005 with a $25 million donation from U of C alumnus Don Taylor.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi, himself a U of C alumnus, thanked Taylor for his many contributions to the university and the city.

Those contributions include an additional $10 million his family has donated to Mount Royal University for a new conservatory and concert hall.

“I feel I need to drop in on you more often, I’ve got a long list of projects I need to do,” said Nenshi, eliciting a round of laughter from the assembled crowd.

“Great libraries make great universities, and great universities make great cities,” Nenshi added. “Helping students succeed here and attracting the best and the brightest from around the world means that our city is resilient, will means that our city will grow, and that our city will continue to experience success.”

U of C president Elizabeth Cannon said that the new library was a key component in the university’s new “Eyes High” strategic vision, which aims for the U of C to become one of the top five research universities in Canada by 2016.

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From left: Graduate Students’ Association president Franco Rizzuti, University of Calgary president Elizabeth Cannon, philanthropists Don and Ruth Taylor, Premier Alison Redford, Wildrose MP Blake Richards, and Mayor Naheed Nenshi celebrate the grand opening of the opening of Taylor Family Digital Library on Thursday, Oct. 20.

Photo by: BAJ Visser“Today’s opening is a big step forward in reaching that dream,” said Cannon. She called the new library “one of the most digitally progressive academic libraries in North America.”

Tom Hickerson, U of C’s vice-provost of libraries and cultural resources, said that what differentiates the Taylor Family Digital Library from others is not that it has digital media, “but that we’ve fully embraced the concept.”

“We’ve built a library that supports all the ways that knowledge creation happens today,” said Hickerson. “So we support the research cycle from inspiration through access to information to analysis to synthesis to dissemination.”

Touchscreens are seen throughout the new library, and students are able to book rooms digitally. Hickerson said that this would make it easier for students to find much-needed study space on campus.

The old MacKimmie library tower is being renovated now that its collection has been moved over to the new library, and may see itself become a further expansion of the study space once all work on the library is done.


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