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by Eva Lam

Ryerson’s library is looking to revamp, expand and renovate, and students’ ideas are an important part of the plan.

This week, the library is inviting students to fill out a survey that aims to give students a voice in space planning issues.

A lack of working space and crowdedness are the most common complaints received by the library, said chief librarian Cathy Matthews.

“We are well below (other schools) in terms of space to study,” she said.

“It also has to do with the type of study space,” said communications and liaison librarian Cecile Farnum. “Some want individual space; some want group study space.”

According to a 2004 Maclean’s survey, Ryerson ranked at the bottom of all Ontario universities in terms of the percentage of the university operating budget allocated to its library. Ryerson also ranked last in terms of library volume, with only 62 books per student.

Part of the problem is that the library was originally built for a polytechnic institute with a student body of 8,500.

“When Ryerson became a university (in 1993), that was the space we had,” said Matthews. The university now has 20,000 full-time students.

Shamaine Reynolds and Bruno Moreira were squeezed into a single study carrel on the eighth floor last Friday, reviewing their notes for an upcoming economics test. Although there were other carrels available, every group study table was full, leaving the two first-year students no choice but to work at the small desk.

Reynolds, a business management student, said there is not enough space in the library. “We need more tables,” he said.

“They don’t even have to be big — just enough to fit two or three people,” said Moreira, an urban and regional planning student.

“It’s too crammed up right now.”

As for the closed-off study rooms: “They’re always taken,” Reynolds said.

But good news may be in store for students such as Reynolds and Moreira. The library is in the process of reviewing ways to resolve these space issues through expansion and renovation.

Matthews has proposed a number of changes to the library. First, she’d like to see the old carrels on floor eight taken out within the next couple of weeks and replaced with more group tables.

“In the last three years, we’ve replaced the carrels on floors six, nine and 10,” said Matthews. “The new seating has really helped.”

Matthews and Farnum also say some staff may be moved to the first floor so offices on the upper levels can be turned into study rooms for students. Renovation of the first floor would likely take place over winter break so the relocation can be ready for the new year.

The library is also working with an architect to determine the ideal net space of the library. If the university decides a new building is needed, it could take several years to complete.

To accommodate late-night studying, Matthews is looking to extend library hours, potentially to midnight. A move to extend Friday hours to 8 p.m. last year was roundly appreciated by students, said Farnum.

Matthews also wants to expand students’ access to its books and electronic resources.

“Strengthening our collections is our number one strategic goal,” Matthews said.

Besides this week’s survey, students can stay updated on the libraries space issues through the library website.

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