Trent University’s Thomas J Bata Library has reopened after an 18-month renovation that aims to bring the 49-year-old institution into the digital age.
Designed by architect Ron Thom, the Thomas J Bata Library was opened it 1969. It had not had a major revamp since then, so several years ago, the university began looking at what it would need to bring it up to current standards.
“The library was not keeping up with the trends in academic libraries with more integration of digital technology and more collaborative spaces,” says Robert Clarke, university librarian.
The collaborative spaces now housed in the library include a number of Trent initiatives like the Trent Centre for Aging, which brings them into the library where they are in contact with faculty and students.
The digital technology includes more computers, video editors, 3D printers and a digital media centre where faculty and staff can prepare and rehearse presentations. The library also has more student study and social space, properly equipped for digital learning, but still retains major elements of Ron Thom’s original design.
“I love that it still feels like Bata Library before it was renovated, but definitely feels it’s been dragged into the 21st Century. There’s a lot of colour, there’s a lot more tech services, computers, study spaces, outlets in the floors we didn’t have before,” says fourth-year student Kyle Pugh.
To make space and further reflect the latest in library philosophy, thousands of little-used books were removed from shelves — but not discarded. They were donated to a program called the Internet Archive where they will be digitized and made available online to universities around the world, including Trent.
The price-tag for the renovations of Bata came in at $18 million. It was paid for through federal and provincial grants, contributions by the university and a public fundraising campaign.