The new University of Stirling Library was formally opened today by His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex KG KCVO, in a lively ceremony attended by donors, staff and students.
The Earl unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion, after touring the stunning contemporary setting which was created by the University’s £11 million investment.
On arrival at the Library he was welcomed by Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, and was introduced to the many staff and donors who had made the project possible. Shown around the building, he also met a number of students, including young entrepreneurs in the Enterprise Zone, one of the many distinctive features of the inspirational environment.
A vibrant drama and music performance by students from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Dance led up to the formal ceremony.
Professor McCormac said: “A library should stimulate and inspire, and be the beating heart of a research intensive university such as ours. This stunning contemporary study space underlines our commitment to provide our students with a first class learning experience.” He paid tribute to the many benefactors and donors, and made it clear that the University would continue to grow and develop, adding: “This is not just about today, we have ambitious plans to enhance the quality of life at Stirling by creating a leading centre for educational engagement.”
Ross Main, Vice President of the Students’ Union, then spoke on behalf of students at Stirling when he said: “The amount of work that has been put into this task has been phenomenal. This library, in these surroundings, makes the University of Stirling a more amazing place for students to come and learn, meet friends for life, and become the adults their parents want them to be. I’m so proud to say that I went to the University of Stirling.”
The Earl of Wessex complimented the University of Stirling on the Library, and compared the learning environment favourably to his own experiences as a History student at Cambridge, before unveiling the plaque.
The University of Stirling Library: an overview
Enjoying a commanding position in the heart of the University campus, the original structure is a listed building, regarded as a well designed example of ‘60s architecture. Therefore the structure’s shell was retained, while its interior was completely reconfigured and redesigned.
Working with the site’s existing qualities – in particular the spectacular views of the Airthrey Loch, the Ochil Hills and the campus parkland which surround it – the architects have created a light, spacious and welcoming environment, which meets the hi-tech needs of students and members of the public alike.
The library consists of three floors and on each, the interior space spans out from a large dramatic central lightwell. The entrance area is a generous space with several staffed reception desks. In addition there are automated stations which assist visitors with self return and self issue of books, together with terminals which can help in the search for journals online and find the precise location of any particular book out of the half a million in stock.
The zoned study spaces include spacious work stations which support group, individual or quiet study, an informal reading section where daily newspapers are available and circular study pods, complete with swivelling touch-screen computers, which ensure a level of privacy and comfortably seat up to eight for group work sessions.
There are 10 group study rooms, which can accommodate up to 12 people and which can be reserved via an electronic booking system located at the entrance to each room. The Enterprise Zone, furnished with comfortable armchairs and sofas, is the perfect meeting place for young entrepreneurs to meet and exchange ideas, while an adjacent lecture space, complete with movable wall, can comfortably seat up to 60 people and can be booked for entrepreneurial activities.
Most of the University’s valuable heritage collections, which include the James Hogg manuscripts, the John Grierson Archive, The Lindsay Anderson Archive, the Chapbooks and the first edition Penguin books, are now retained in an environmentally controlled storage room, while those items on exhibit are safely housed within a floor to ceiling glass partition, overlooking a dedicated reading room.
To make it a place where students will want to gather and study, the planners incorporated a lot of input from the students to provide a seamless service and make it a place that they feel is ‘theirs’, with zoned study space, wireless computer network and 24/7 opening for key services.
As well as providing an access point to the world’s information resources, most of which are now electronically available, the University’s vital heritage collections will be made more accessible and better curated, to help visitors and researchers appreciate them.
Since reopening its doors in August, the state-of-the-art library has seen an 80% increase in footfall, compared with figures for the same period in 2008, before the refurbishment programme began.