The Library as “Student Heaven”: Re-Designing Library Spaces to Enrich the Student Experience

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paper


In 2016, the ground-floor of the Reid Library at The University of Western Australia (UWA) was transformed from a ‘cold, dusty and dated’ 50-year-old space to a ‘stylish, open and social’ 750 seat collaborative learning facility. This paper will focus on how libraries are re-designing library spaces to enrich and enhance the student experience. Discussing the Reid Library Project as a case study, the paper will outline how the University Library engaged broadly and deeply with stakeholders to determine requirements, develop an innovative design befitting the Library’s central place on campus, and to generate unprecedented support for the project with one student describing it as “student heaven”.

Student engagement was central to the Project with extensive consultation undertaken to determine requirements in the form of surveys, regular meetings with student leaders, focus groups and social media engagement. Students provided constructive feedback on everything, from proposed layouts to furniture preferences, which was utilised in the planning and implementation project phases. Visitors to the Library were also engaged and able to contribute to project decision making, through such initiatives as a people’s choice vote to select the artwork for the Library entrance.

The reaction from the UWA community has been extremely positive since the space reopened with a 75% increase in library entrances. Utilisation of reference and information support has increased 40% in the new location and the space has enabled the UWA community to engage with the Library in new ways – from election polling booths, to career workshops, chess games and industry events. The teaching spaces have brought academic staff back to the Library. Most importantly, the project strengthened the Library’s relationship with students and firmly embedded the Library’s role as a leader in student experience on campus.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2017 IATUL Proceedings
PublisherPurdue University
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event38th Annual IATUL Conference - Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy
Duration: 18 Jun 201722 Jun 2017


Conference38th Annual IATUL Conference


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