Guest Blog: Martha Whitehead, Queen’s University Librarian

This month’s guest blog comes courtesy of Martha Whitehead, Queen’s University Librarian and Chair of the Library and Archives Master Plan (LAMP) Steering Group. The project team has been working closely with Martha and the LAMP Consultant Team to ensure both planning efforts complement and inform one another.  Martha’s provided us with a great post about the importance and changing face of libraries, their central role in the Queen’s campus experience, and some of the key directions of the forthcoming Library & Archives Master Plan. 

Douglas Hall Library

Douglas Library

“Every great campus has great libraries.  In considering the future directions of the Queen’s campus, our planning teams have been paying close attention to the way the library and archives system is interwoven through the fabric of the university. The emerging vision is of an iconic Library Square – a dynamic public realm in and between Stauffer Library and Douglas Library – with a network of library spaces across the entire campus that builds upon existing facilities and reimagines their relationships.  It’s an exciting plan that supports Queen’s vision of being the Canadian research-intensive university with a transformative student learning experience.

The Faculty of Education Library, Duncan McArthur Hall

Education Library, Duncan McArthur Hall

I often reflect on how amazing it is to be a librarian at this point in time.  Much of our expertise is focused on information access and preservation in the digital realm.  The world is at our fingertips more than ever before.  At the same time, there’s something about the physical space of a library that draws people in, also more than ever before.

So for me, one of the most fascinating parts of the Library and Archives Master Plan (LAMP) project has been to consider the elements that make a library a library.  If it had ever been simply about housing books, the great libraries of the world would have been warehouses, not beautiful icons of learning and research.  They’re really about people, and what people do with any and every form of knowledge:  read, think, inquire, share ideas, dream, collaborate, and create the future.  In our planning, we’ve been looking at the relationships between the elements that nurture those activities – collections, services and learning/study space – and making sure we have the right mix for the years ahead.

The LAMP team has been working closely with the team responsible for the Campus Master Plan (CMP) since both projects were launched last year.  We approached the two endeavours separately because of the specialized focus needed for LAMP, and we approached them together because it’s impossible to think about one without the other.  Our planning partners, Urban Strategies Inc for the CMP and CS&P Architects for LAMP, have worked together in the past, and that successful relationship has continued with these projects.

User input has been a driving force in the LAMP project.  Since November there have been extensive stakeholder workshops, interviews, presentations to faculty and student groups, open information sessions, social media interactions and online feedback.  The LAMP Steering Group itself includes dedicated students and faculty who have been providing thoughtful guidance on the planning process and insightful ideas about the library.  They have contributed immensely to emerging plans.

Queen’s library spaces have great strengths to build upon. In the Library’s regular user satisfaction surveys, our ratings for ‘library as place’ are very high, well above the mean for other Canadian research libraries.  So why are we paying so much attention to library space planning if we’re in such good shape? Well, our user surveys also tell us something we’ve been hearing and witnessing for some time: that the campus needs more learning spaces outside the classroom, for students to work on their own or together in groups.  The plans we’re proposing now will dramatically increase the availability of such spaces.

The Alan G. Green Fireplace Reading Room in Stauffer Library

The Alan G. Green Fireplace Reading Room in Stauffer Library

Another reason for this focused library planning is that libraries are engaged in transformative change. When our fabulous Stauffer Library opened in 1994, the first web browsers had just been invented and e-journal publishing was beginning to take off.  Now, the journal literature for most disciplines is available easily online through library subscriptions or open access, and libraries are working together to ensure that these digital versions are not ephemeral but available in perpetuity.  We’re also collaborating on retaining rarely used print copies.  Queen’s is actively involved in the internationally renowned Ontario Council of University Libraries partnership that has been developing innovative, cost-saving approaches to information access and preservation for over a decade.  Based on user feedback and our strong partnerships, we’re confident that we can safely repurpose much of the space devoted to bound journal collections to create more learning, study and services space.

The need to limit costs is another driving force of our planning exercise.   Steps towards the LAMP project began several years ago with the Library’s Restructuring Action Plan, which was developed to sustain a user-centred library within the reality of budget constraints.  The LAMP initiative is looking for ways to reduce operating costs and rationalize overall space costs of the Library and the Archives.  The changes proposed adhere to the principle of academic needs driving the budget model.  For example, there are academic benefits to co-locating Archives with Special Collections in renovated space in Douglas Library, as well as cost savings in moving Archives out of Kathleen Ryan Hall.

Douglas Library Reading Room

Douglas Library Reading Room

We’re at a milestone moment this week. After many months of iterative development of plans, the LAMP Steering Group is beginning to review a draft of the full Library and Archives Master Plan.  We expect to make the plan available to the campus community this summer and will be discussing the findings with Campus Master Plan Advisory Committee members at their upcoming meeting.  In the fall, when we have more students and faculty on campus, I’ll be presenting it to various groups on behalf of the LAMP Steering Group.  Given the enthusiastic responses to the draft plans and ideas in the winter and spring, we’re sure we’ll enjoy further engagement through the summer and fall.

All the people involved in this planning – students, faculty, staff, our planning partners – agree our future is bright.  Queen’s much-loved libraries and archives will continue to be an integral part of our balanced academy and our great campus.  After all, libraries and archives are where learning and research intertwine, ideas are explored, friends are met and relationships are forged – what being at university is all about.

More information about the LAMP project is available on our website, and we’ll be posting the draft plan there as soon as it’s available:  http://www.queensu.ca/connect/lamp/.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than talking with people about libraries and archives, so I’d be delighted to hear from anyone with questions or ideas about our planning or any Library or Archives matters.”

Martha Whitehead is Queen’s University Librarian, Chair of the Library and Archives Master Plan Steering Group and a member of the Campus Master Plan Advisory group.

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Thanks to all who attended the Campus & Community Open House #1

ImageThank you to the Queen’s students, staff, faculty, and Kingston community members who dropped by Stauffer Library on May 23rd to meet with the consultant team and learn about the direction the CMP is heading. We had some great conversations about the work-to-date, aspirations for the campus, and some great new ideas. We are now eager to develop the Draft Campus Plan which will be presented back to the campus and community in the fall.

Things may be quiet on here over the summer, but its because we’ll be hard at work incorporating our analysis and consultation to date into a draft plan. We’ll still be posting guest blogs and polls periodically, so stay posted for more info.

…And if you haven’t had an opportunity yet, view the panels from the first open house, and leave a comment on the discussion thread.

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Leave your comments on the Campus & Community Open House #1 Materials!

The CMP team has recently completed our analysis and initial consultation components of the study and we’re hosting an open house for the campus and community at the Stauffer Library Loggia on May 23, 2013 between 2 and 6 .

Can’t make it? Not to worry! You can download all the information materials here (right click and hit “save as”) and leave your comments in the discussion thread here.

The discussion thread will be left up until the study is complete and we’ll try our best to respond to all comments in person. Thanks in advance for your input!

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Event Notice: Campus and Community Open House #1

Campus and Community Open House #1
May 23, 2013
Stauffer Library Loggia
101 Union Street
Drop in between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Main Campus is nearing capacity.
The Queen’s campus experience needs to be protected and enhanced while accommodating facility upgrades.
The future of campus must recognize opportunities for community building.
Queen’s must nurture a symbiotic relationship with the City of Kingston.

…These are some of the key directions driving the Queen’s Campus Master Plan update. Come out to the Stauffer Library Loggia on May 23 between 2p.m. and 6 p.m. to provide your comments on where the study is heading!

Queen’s University is updating its Campus Master Plan (CMP). When complete, the CMP will establish an engaging and attainable vision and framework that will guide how the university physically changes over the next 10 to 15 years. The university has retained a multi-faceted consultant team to prepare the CMP, led by Urban Strategies and supported by a number of other consultants specializing in different aspects of campus development.

The CMP consultant team has recently completed its analysis and initial consultation components of the study and is ready to hear your feedback on key directions. Come to learn about the key findings to date, meet with the project consultants, and comment on the preliminary directions.

Can’t make the event? All materials will be posted to the project website and blog directly following the event, including information about how to provide your input online.

For more information:

Visit the project website
Read & Subscribe to the blog
Follow us on Twitter and join the discussion by using the #planyourcampus hashtag!
Like us on Facebook and RSVP to the event.

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Guest Blogger: Tony Gkotsis

Our second guest blog post comes courtesy of Tony Gkotsis, School of Urban and Regional Planning graduate student and member of the Campus Master Plan Advisory Committee and Project Team. Tony’s provided us with a great overview of Queen’s campus plans over the years — illustrating the issues these master plans have responded to and the mark they’ve left behind. 

“Over the course of the last year I have had the opportunity to be involved in the Campus Master Plan process as a member of the Campus Master Plan Advisory Committee and as a member of the University Project Team. As a student in the School of Urban and Regional Planning my involvement in this project has been a rewarding learning experience. Recently, I have been spending time exploring in the University archives and with the help of the Archivists have uncovered a series of Campus Plans stretching back to the 1920s.

Although these plans are much less comprehensive in nature than recent plans that have been created for the University since 1994, they provide insight into issues related to both short and long term growth of the University. At their most basic form these plans were an exercise in planning the physical expansion of Queen’s University. At their best, these plans reinforced the important elements of the Campus and strived to create new special places for future generations of student’s faculty and staff. Queen’s has a long tradition of creating campus plans. Although, we do not possess complete versions of all these plans, we do have enough information to give a glimpse into some of the planning ideas of the past. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the highlights from these plans.

1920 Sheppard & Calvin Plan

Figure 1: Bishop-Barker 1919 Aerial photograph of Queen’s University.  Queen’s University Archives, V28-Gen-17.1

Figure 1: Bishop-Barker 1919 Aerial photograph of Queen’s University. Queen’s University Archives, V28-Gen-17.1


Architects Sheppard & Calvin were engaged by Queen’s University to locate and design Douglas Library (and later Ban Righ Hall). In 1920 the architects were asked to prepare a Plan for the future grouping of buildings at the University. Of special concern at the time was the proper development of the “North Campus”. This aerial photograph, (Figure 1) taken by Bishop-Barker Co. in 1919 shows the state of the Campus at this time. Buildings had already begun to appear in the northwest portion of the campus as well as the associated quadrangle. However, the northeast portion of the campus was filled in by a series of arenas and sheds. At the same time plans were underway to construct Richardson Memorial Stadium in the western portion of the campus across from Victoria School (current location of Tyndal Field).

Figure 2: Sheppard & Calvin, Proposed Grouping of Future Buildings Scheme B 1920.  Queen’s University Archives, V36.5.

Figure 2: Sheppard & Calvin, Proposed Grouping of Future Buildings Scheme B 1920. Queen’s University Archives, V36.5.

In Response Sheppard & Calvin produced two schemes for the Proposed Grouping of Future Buildings. Scheme B (Figure 2) appears to have most influenced the growth of Queen’s. Short and medium term recommendations of this plan include the sighting of Ban Righ Hall (at its present location); the creation of two groupings of buildings in the northern portion of the campus as well as two formalized quadrangles. This was to be achieved by the relocation of arenas from the northeast portion of the campus, placing them adjacent to Richardson Stadium to create an athletic campus. In the long term, this plan set the stage for future academic buildings crossing University Avenue. Overall, this plan sought to recreate “special” places on campus through the replication and reinforcement of existing patterns of development.

1945 The Todd Plan
In 1944 noted Canadian landscape architect and town planner Frederick Todd was engaged by the University to create a long and short term plan for the University as well as a landscape plan. Todd was trained in Fredrick Law Olmsted’s firm, becoming Canada’s first professional landscape architect when he in turn established his own firm in Montreal.

Figure 3: 1947 aerial photograph of Queen’s University, Queen’s University Archives, V28-Gen-99.

Figure 3: 1947 aerial photograph of Queen’s University, Queen’s University Archives, V28-Gen-99.

While, Todd’s plan has not been located to date, we do have excerpts from the plan as it was presented to the Board of Trustees in 1945. Figure 3, is an aerial view of the campus from 1947. Todd’s recommendations included: the siting of men’s residences at the Leonard field site (he is also likely responsible for the general siting of the buildings and the interior open space we know today), as well as a road centred on Ontario Hall to Alfred Street leading to the residences; a new administration building (Richardson Hall) and student union building (became Ellis Hall instead) located on the corners of that roadway and University Avenue. Although the roadway never materialized the location of the two buildings in relation to Ontario Hall followed Todd’s recommendations.

Frederick Todd also suggested the location of McLaughlin Hall as a terminating vista for University Avenue foreseeing a street lined with impressive University buildings terminating at that point. Unfortunately the University could not obtain the land it needed to center McLaughlin Hall on University Avenue, the result being that the building cut off views of Lake Ontario and at the same time never achieved Todd’s vision as an alternative to a view of the water (which wasn’t highly prized in those days). In the long term Mr. Todd also reiterated the need to relocate the arena in the north east corner of the campus to the west of Richardson Stadium to create an athletic campus while at the same time opening up the interior of the campus for open space.

1955 Culham’s Vison
In 1955 Queen’s University continued its practice of hiring notable Canadian landscape architects to produce plans for the University. Like Todd, Gordon Culham was also trained by the Olmsted firm. He, along with Frederick Todd was one of the founders of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, becoming the organizations first president. Unfortunately, similar to Todd’s plan, Culham’s plan (if it was completed) has not been located. However, a preliminary report to the Building Committee by Culham indicates areas of concern and preliminary observations.

Culham recognized that buildings at Queen’s University, like many other universities in North America faced both the street and the interior of the campus. This feature of North American Universities is what distinguishes them from their European counterparts that are typically cloistered. However, his immediate concern was that while the University did a good job of addressing the street side of the buildings it had ignored the spaces on the inward facing sides. These spaces had become crowded by buildings and parking alike. Similar to arguments made by Shepard and Calvin as well as Todd, Culham argued that the arena and obsolete residences in the northeast corner should be demolished and replaced with a new academic building at the corner of Union and Arch St. This would provide the University with much needed academic space in the core of the campus and provide an opportunity to create a new interior space. Culham also suggested the closing of lower Alfred St. beside Richardson Stadium and the siting of new buildings adjacent to the Stadium. Culham argued that the University needed to develop a parking strategy to protect open spaces. Furthermore, he recognized the need to find answers to the following questions:

• What are the limitations to the physical size of the University?
• Should buildings within faculties continue to be in close proximity to each other or should they be broken up into smaller groups?
• What are the space needs for new or expanding faculties and departments?
• How important is the separation of academic and non-academic activities?
• How can we better connect the campus, open spaces and the lake?
• Is it better to place modern buildings within the “old campus” or should entirely new sites be selected?
• When is it appropriate to demolish obsolete buildings? What is the historical value of those buildings?
• How do we accommodate the automobile on campus?

1961, Barott, Marshall, Merret & Barott

Figure 4: 1961 Ultimate Campus Plan, Long Term Planning Committee Minutes, May 1961, Queen’s University Archives.

Figure 4: 1961 Ultimate Campus Plan, Long Term Planning Committee Minutes, May 1961, Queen’s University Archives.

In 1961 the architectural firm of Barott, Marshall, Merret & Barott produced a campus plan for Queen’s University. The Barott Plan responded to questions posed by Culham in a way that was very much a product of its time. The plan called for the University to eventually obtain all properties within the university precinct not owned by the hospital. Parking lots were to be established on the periphery of the campus; residences were to be sited looking over the waterfront where stately homes were located and traffic on Union St. was to be diverted to Clergy St (Figure 4).
On initial observation, many of the recommendations made by this plan can be considered reasonable responses to issues of expansion and increased traffic. However, this plan did not consider the broader context of the University within the City. This plan would create barriers between the University and its surroundings. In essence, turning the University’s back on the City.

Queen’s University is what Robert Stern refers to as an “embedded” campus. An embedded campus is one that is integrated within a host community. Since the time of the Barrot Plan many others have been produced to chart the future growth of Queen’s that have reflected on the embedded nature of Queen’s University. In producing these plans and our current Campus Master Plan we ask many of the same questions that been previously posed. We look for ways to connect the various campuses as well as integrate the campus within the surrounding community. We strive to identify “great places” on campus and look for ways to reinforce and replicate them when possible. We try to understand what is needed in terms of academic, residence and recreational space and site the appropriate location for new buildings. In many respects the important part of producing a Campus Master Plan is the asking of these questions. The answer to these questions may change over time reflecting our changing values and needs and that is ok. Because, at its best a Campus Master Plan is a reflection of our collective ideas of what the physical expression of the University should or can be.”

[1] Board of Trustees Minutes, Dec. 9, 1945, Queen’s University Archives.
[i.] Board of Trustees Minutes, May 16, 1945, Queen’s University Archives.
[ii.] Ibid.
[iii.] Building Committee Minutes, Aug. 26, 1955, Queen’s University Archives.
[vi.] Kenney, Daniel R; Dumont, Ricardo; Kenney, Ginger S. (2005). Mission and place: strengthening learning and community through campus design. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers.
[v.] Building Committee Minutes, Aug. 26, 1955, Queen’s University Archives.
[vi.] Stern, Robert A.M. (2010). Robert A.M. Stern: On Campus: architecture, identity, and community. edited by Peter Morris Dixon with Alexander Newman-Wise and Jonathan Grzywacz. New York: Monacelli Press.

Tony Gkotsis bio imageTony Gkotsis is a graduate student in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Queen’s University and Graduate Trustee on the Queen’s University Board of Trustees.  Tony has been involved in the Campus Master Plan process since last May as the Society of Graduate and Professional Student representative on the Campus Master Plan Advisory Committee and is a member of the Queen’s University Campus Master Plan Project Team.

Does reading about these past plans give you any ideas about the issues we should be responding to today? Ideas for the CMP’s recommendations? Leave a comment and let us know! Or take to Twitter — don’t forget to use the #PlanYourCampus hashtag.

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Thanks to all who came to the Plan Your Campus Information Exchange

We at the CMP team had a great time chatting with Queen’s students, staff, and faculty last week at the Plan Your Campus Information Exchange at Queen’s Centre. We’ll be incorporating what we heard at the event into our material for our Visioning Workshop and first public open house over these next few months.

The conversation is not over. All discussion threads created for the event will remain open  throughout the study process, so feel free comment if you haven’t already …and pass on the blog URL to friends!

You can download the Information Panels and read about the event here

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Guest Blogger: Doug Johnson, President & CEO, AMS

The CMP team is excited to post our first in a series of guest bloggers. Over the study process, we’ll be periodically posting the different perspectives of Queen’s & Kingston’s residents opinions on the Queen’s Campus – including their aspirations for the CMP. For our first instalment we’re happy to feature a post from Doug Johnson, President and CEO of the Alma Mater Society (AMS). 

“Over the past several months the University has been engaged in the next major component of their planning exercise– the Campus Master Plan (CMP). Together with the University’s Academic Plan and Strategic Research Plan, the Campus Master Plan seeks to develop a strategic framework for the University over the next ten to fifteen years. This framework aims to guide how the University campus will physically change over the years in order to accommodate increased enrolment and evolving programming. It must also support Queen’s faculty, staff and students in order  to enhance Queen’s University’s reputation as a balanced academy.

This term ‘balanced academy’ certainly means something different to each person depending on their concentration, activity or role at Queen’s, but it generally underpins a concept of balancing the institution’s research priorities with its teaching priorities. But research and teaching are not necessarily the only ways that students can learn at Queen’s. Consider the concept of a broader learning environment. This concept identifies that there are many other mediums for students to learn on and off campus that ultimately complement the learning they pursue in the classroom. These concepts are drawn from extra-curricular involvement in clubs or teams, holding a managerial position within the student government, or simply living together with other students where you potentially receive some of the greatest education of all: how to interact with other students, solve interpersonal problems, get along and learn from one another.

What exactly does this have to do with the Campus Master Plan? While the Campus Master Plan mandate recognizes that it will guide the University’s physical growth of campus over the next several years, it must also take into consideration the unique campus and institution of which we are so fortunate to be a part – the balanced academy and the broader learning environment being two of those defining features. Queen’s truly has a 24/7 campus insofar as at any time of day throughout the week there is constantly activity in our classrooms, our libraries, our common spaces and our athletic facilities. But how do our students use this space? How do they move on campus and at what time of day? How do we find synergy between our multiple campuses? How exactly do we define campus life? These are all questions that the firm that is spearheading this plan, Urban Strategies, is looking to answer to help inform the planning process.

The urgency to assess the use of campus space has never been greater given that the second and third phases of the Queen’s Centre project, intended to fulfil the needs of our students, has been indefinitely postponed. Now is the time to reassess our needs and the facilities that fill them.

The CMP has to recognize that Queen’s is unlike any other University with its multiple campuses, extremely dense student housing, proximity to hospitals and the downtown core and above all, the broader learning environment of which each and every student is a part.

To be clear, this environment is not much more than our academic pursuits. Rather, it is much that complements our academic pursuits.  It says that at Queen’s University you can expect an enriched experience both inside and outside of the classroom and that there are true, meaningful opportunities for you to apply those academic lessons in non-academic settings.

If the Campus Master Plan is to be successful it must recognize these defining features of the Queen’s University experience. At Queen’s we have a gorgeous campus with incredible limestone buildings set in 171 years of history, we have incredible neighbours throughout the Kingston community and we have a truly committed faculty that are continually evolving their instructional deliveries. Complementing all of these great features of Queen’s is our broader learning environment and I truly believe that this is one of the greatest attractors to Queen’s University, and one that needs to be considered throughout the Campus Master Planning Process.” – Doug Johnson

dougjohsnon_phtoDoug Johnson is the President & CEO of the Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University, Canada’s oldest student government. He is in his fifth year at Queen’s and is studying history while working full time for the AMS. Doug has been involved in the Campus Master Plan process since last May as the undergraduate representative of the Master Plan Advisory Committee. Doug encourages all undergraduate students to attend the Plan Your Campus: Information Exchange at Queen’s Centre on March 26 and subscribe to the CMP blog.

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