A year ago, on September 4, 2018, #Ubishops inaugurated its new Library Learning Commons. It’s the perfect study spot for either group or individual study. Dr. Jamie Crooks, director of the Learning Commons project and professor in the Department of Philosophy, tells us a bit more about this transition!

For the better part of a decade now, Michael Goldbloom’s administration has been leading a conversation at Bishop’s and in the surrounding community about optimizing and renovating the spaces on campus dedicated to learning. How might these spaces best do the work they are meant to do? How might we imagine together a series of building on our intimate campus which are themselves both the invocation and accommodation of our traditional values and, simultaneously, the translation of those values into the languages, pedagogies, technologies and synergies of the 21st century? In such questions, the project of the Bishop’s Library Learning Commons found its point of departure. Éric Pelletier of Lemay Architects (Montreal), working with librarians and library staff, faculty, and students, undertook an integrative design process that culminated in a completely new plan for the interior of the existing library. At the centre of this plan was the idea of the building as a tree of knowledge featuring a spacious agora that was to function as the trunk from which branches leading to new learning spaces might extend. This ‘tree’ was to be planted more effectively and explicitly in its surroundings by making all the spaces within it optimally transparent. Finally, it was to call to mind its own heritage by conserving and updating the original reading room.

The renovation took roughly 18 months from start to finish. It required planning and execution of the two largest moves in the history of the University – the migration from the old library to temporary quarters set up beside the Sports Complex and the migration from those quarters back into newly renovated space. To call librarians and library staff directing these migrations heroic would be an understatement. Roughly 245,000 items were moves twice. Library services continued uninterrupted throughout the period of transition. The new Bishop’s Library Learning Commons opened on August 20, 2018 and was launched official1y on September 4, 2018.

It was, of course, the hope of the University’s administration, the architects and the stakeholders involved in every step of the integrative design process, that the new building become a vibrant centre of both campus and community education. But no one could have predicted how wildly popular the new building would be. In spite of significant expansion of seating capacity, the Library Learning Commons is virtually full to capacity 7 days a week. It’s ago has become a popular space for public lectures, films, and other events. Its smart classrooms and group work spaces are laboratories for study and pedagogical innovation. Its writing and other help centres are collaborating constantly with students looking to improve their work and deepen their understanding of themselves and the world. The Bishop’s Library Learning Commons is a welcoming new home for those in pursuit of knowledge on campus and in the wider community. It will delight students of Bishop’s for many years to come.

To learn more about the Library Learning Commons, please visit

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