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Libraries, a resource and place of choice

December 2, 2014 — 

 In 1960, students staged a silent protest in the Elizabeth Dafoe Library. Students were upset that the library closed at 10:00 p.m. and asked that it stay open longer. Since their requests were not being seriously considered, the students decided to take a slightly more assertive stance on the issue. When the bell rang to indicate the closing of the building, the students stayed in their seats and lit candles. A total of 518 students signed a petition to keep the library open for that additional hour. The library now closes at 11 p.m. on weeknights.

The importance of libraries to students is clear, even beyond the informational resources and librarians — which are integral. Students spend a lot of time there.

Almost a year ago, on Jan. 17, 2013, the newly renovated Elizabeth Dafoe Library had its formal opening, following a $5.5 million redesign.

Dafoe Library, 1971.

New circulation equipment at Dafoe Library, 1971. // Bulletin archives

The main floor of the library now has stylish furniture, self-serve kiosks, collaborative media space and a one-stop service desk. Designed by LM Architectural Group, the new space features a stunning entrance, more study areas and computer workstations, versatile teaching spaces, warm and plentiful energy efficient lighting. The combined effect is expected to build a sense of community among students and other library users, making it a place of choice to do research, study and just hang out.

And U of M libraries continue to evolve.

While print-based resources remain a vital part of our libraries, new technologies have made it possible for communities around the world to access these valuable collections. If we can acquire more technological upgrades and enhance our facilities, the university libraries can be a resource available to a global community.

A successful fundraising campaign, along with federal funding through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program (KIP), allowed for major renovations at the Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library, located on the University’s Bannatyne campus. The expanded library includes group study rooms, a new conference/training room, and redeveloped and expanded spaces for the Faculty of Medicine Archives, the Aboriginal Health Collection and the History of Medicine.


‘Beneficial to everybody’

The Bannatyne campus library plays a big role in Emily Sobering’s pursuit of a physical therapy degree.

“It’s where everything comes from. It’s like your reference point for all of your information,” she says.

Donating to libraries enriches the university experience for students like Sobering.

DNR_headshots-EmilyShe credits the librarians at the Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library with helping her to make sense of the massive amount of resources stored on its shelves and in its digital databases. Thanks to their thoughtful guidance, Sobering got to know — and master — the research tools available to her and designed specifically for her program.

“Honestly, I don’t think I would know where to start as far as what databases are appropriate for physical therapy because if you look online there are thousands of databases,” she says. “So to know already that okay, these are the ones specific to my research and my faculty, it’s very, very helpful.”

To Sobering and other students like her, the small things a library provides are big things. It offers a sense of calm within a bustling university campus, and the perfect environment for quiet study or meaningful group discussions.

The public space has fewer distractions than at home and she especially likes the group study areas with the wall-to-wall white boards, which have plenty of room for ideas to take over.

“We really do use the libraries and we really do appreciate it,” Sobering says. “It’s your place to study. It’s your quiet time where you can focus and get stuff done. So, it’s extremely beneficial to everybody on campus.”


Across the university, library resources and spaces to study, meet and collaborate play an important role in a student’s experience today. When you support our libraries and study spaces, you are giving our students the gift of knowledge that enables them to conquer the challenges before them. With your support, we can help shape the success of our students.

Donate to libraries.

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