Collaboration meeting rooms will be part of the new library. Illustration courtesy St. Jerome’s University

St. Jerome’s library joins reno bandwagon

  • October 19, 2019

The face of St. Jerome’s University has changed considerably over recent years and it will soon unveil its latest upgrade as the final touches are put on the renovation of the school’s library.

The $2.2-million project began in April and is expected to be complete early in the new year. 

The expansion will bring 17,000 square feet of state-of-the-art learning, research, collaborative and quiet study space along with collaborative smart classrooms, private meeting spaces and electronic compact shelving. An accessibility lift has also been added.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but coming in the wake of a campus renewal plan that began to take shape in 2011-12 in the lead-up to the school’s 150th anniversary, the university felt it was a needed addition to the school founded by the Congregation of the Resurrection in 1865.

“The library ended up being an outgrowth of the other project,” said Scott Kline, interim president and vice-chancellor of the Catholic university federated with the University of Waterloo in southwestern Ontario. 

Originally it was only going to be a facelift for the library, “put some paint on the old girl and off she goes,” said Kline, but “we recognized that wasn’t going to meet the needs of our students and our faculty.”

“We were in a place where we needed to do this to ensure that we could be where our students wanted to be and to support our faculty,” said Kline. “The board heard this and released the funds to us.”

The library will double in size, and key to that is expanded research labs that will support the work of researchers on campus.

It’s all blended well with the recent upgrades at St. Jerome’s that saw the construction of a new academic building with a 22,000-square-foot lecture hall, more medium-sized classrooms and seminar rooms as well as a 360-bed residence. 

“It’s completely changed the look and the feel of the campus,” said Kline. “We have state-of-the-art classrooms, we have a residence that was intentionally constructed so that it meets the needs of our contemporary students.”

Meeting the students’ needs meant building a residence to encourage social interaction, an important component of university life.

“It encourages, by the way it’s laid out, contact with other students. You really can’t isolate yourself in residence,” he said.

The whole renewal has also encouraged more contact with the greater University of Waterloo campus and beyond. It’s proven to be popular for groups in the community hosting conferences and retreats, and within the education realm of U of W more classes are being held at St. Jerome’s because of the desirable facilities. 

That’s important at a university that for 27 years has been ranked as Canada’s most innovative university, said Kline.

“At St. Jerome’s what we try to do is complement the University of Waterloo. They have certain expectations and we’re helping to deliver on those expectations.”

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