Build Dynamic Learning & Research Spaces

Our 2016 Highlights

The UBC Okanagan Library remains undersized to serve our current student population. At present, there are 684 seats available. Of these seats, approximately 54 (7.9%) are located within study rooms, 37 (5.4%) are soft seating, 287 (42%) are quiet, individual study, and 120 (17.5%) are dedicated to group study. We also provide computer access with 123 desktops (both Mac and PCs) available to students, as well as 42 laptop computers available for either 7-day or 24-hour loans.

“The library needs more study space! Not all the students can fit, and for commuter students like me, who have nowhere else to go, it’s annoying.”
– 2nd Year undergraduate student, Humanities

Inclusive Technology Lab

Inclusive Technology LabUBC Okanagan Library’s Inclusive Technology Lab (ITL) resulted from a desire to enhance services offered by the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) and further support academic success for students with disabilities. The ITL welcomes both DRC-registered students with short- and long-term disabilities, as well as students who have an academic interest in learning about assistive software.

The ITL welcomes individuals contending with a broad range of disabilities, from students with visual, hearing, or physical barriers to students with neurological disabilities, including brain injuries, autism, mental illness, ADHD, or temporary disabilities such as a broken arm. The space assists these students in four key workspaces designed for individual and group work: two computer labs with six workstations, a large distraction-reduced study space, and a collaborative space for practicing presentations, which includes an adjustable work table, TV screen, and printer.

In its inaugural year, the space, equipment, and services provided by the ITL yielded both social and academic benefits. The Lab’s supportive environment is helping to empower students by giving them the tools they need to become effective learners, reducing barriers to their academic success. Consequently, cross-campus awareness for the ITL is building, which is reducing the stigma for students needing this extra support. Greater awareness of the ITL has also resulted in an increase of registered DRC students. As of September 2015, the DRC had 285 students registered to use its facilities. By April 2016 this number reached 400, an increase of 100 students from a year earlier.

“I think it [the ITL] was a great idea as now I can access texts that I normally wouldn’t be able to. The university should definitely keep and expand the lab so that students with need could have a smooth academic experience as I had with its aid.”

In April 2016, students rated the ITL very highly in supporting their studies. They appreciated the easy access to assistive technology and to quiet, distraction-free space. Now that the ITL is established, we have come to learn that our combination of space, technology, and lending support services is unique in a BC library setting. A representative of Assistive Technology BC stated that in his opinion UBC Okanagan had set a new standard among post-secondary institutions within BC.

Innovation Library

Innovation LibraryIn 2015, the UBC Okanagan Library, in collaboration with the Okanagan Regional Library (ORL), launched its physical presence within the downtown Kelowna branch of ORL, allowing members of the Okanagan community and the university access to UBC’s vast online information resources in a convenient urban location. The Innovation Library is uniquely positioned to serve the needs of students involved in experiential and community service learning opportunities, faculty members engaged with community-based research, and community researchers in the Okanagan. A unique two-year pilot project, the initiative was jointly supported by a private British Columbia-based foundation and the Irving K. Barber Learning fund.

Though the role welcomed a new incumbent in Summer 2016, our Community Innovation Librarian was involved in programming and events throughout the year, including the One Book Kelowna launch, Kelowna Genealogical Society Conference, Focus on Fanfiction workshop, and Interior Health’s Evidence Matters webinar series. The librarian also sat on the organizing committee, and participated in coordinating events, for Central Okanagan Heritage Society’s Heritage Week.

“The Innovation Library has been greatly helpful to me for conducting research. Instead of having to go all the way up to the campus near the airport, participants and myself are able to make use of a space in the heart of the city. Having a librarian available who can help with any questions that may arise, has been very helpful.”
– Research Assistant, Faculty of Education

In Fall 2016, the Innovation Library extended its hours of operation to 46 per week (from 27 per week in 2015) through the addition of a UBC School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (SLAIS) Co-op student. In addition, following some renovations at the ORL’s Kelowna branch, the Innovation Library is relocating to a new, higher traffic space in early 2017, significantly increasing its visibility.

2017 promises to expand outreach through engagement with industry and community organizations including UBC Okanagan Co-op partners, Interior Health (which has recently opened a new building immediately across the street), and technology sector colleagues such as Accelerate Okanagan and its members in anticipation of the 2017 opening of the Okanagan Centre for Innovation.

Teaching and Learning Centre

New Teaching and Learning CentreThrough 2014’s #MoreLibrary campaign and subsequent referendum, students confirmed their commitment to the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) project by agreeing to fund up to $10M. With additional government funding formally announced in early December 2016, UBC Okanagan’s TLC will reimagine the campus learning experience, facilitate interdisciplinary research opportunities, and contribute to community engagement. An expansion of the existing library featuring exciting new facilities, the TLC will consider emerging technology requirements, and respond to student demands for interactive spaces that support both collaborative and independent work. Specifically, the TLC plans include a state of the art 400 seat classroom, informal learning/collaborative study areas, quiet/independent study spaces, group study/case rooms, a graduate student commons, a digital media centre with a visualization lab which will facilitate high resolution data modeling for research and teaching, and an immersive theatre space that will allow public presentation and sharing of student and community research. In addition, a new special collections and archives facility will support research, teaching, and community linkages in social sciences and humanities disciplines, and provide vault facilities appropriate for the long-term preservation of rare and valuable physical collections, works of art, and institutional records.

“Need way more space.”
– 4th year undergraduate student, Science / Math / Computer Science

The UBC Okanagan Library remains undersized to serve our current student population. At present, there are 684 seats available, an increase of 5% (36 seats) since July 2014. These seats comprise a combination of study room seating, flexible soft seating, quiet individual study spaces, and areas devoted to group study and collaboration. The Library also houses 123 desktop computers (a combination of Mac and PC) for users, as well as 42 laptop computers, which are available for either 7-day or 24-hour loan periods.

In 2014-15, the Library made every effort to maximize student space, including through the renovation of the Special Collections and Writing and Research Services spaces (which were previously staff areas), and the relocation of lesser-used print serials to a small storage area physically proximal to their previous location. The Library has also tried to find creative solutions and partnerships to enhance existing facilities: 

STAR collaboration facility

Partnering with STAR, the UBC Library, in collaboration with IT, Media, and Classroom Services, has created a hub for concept development collaboration and digital media production on its main floor. This facility includes a videoconference and collaboration space, an automated video and sound studio designed for the creation of video and voiceover media related to research and development, teaching and learning, promotion, and story telling, and a suite of Mac computer stations equipped with production software for video, motion graphics, images, web, graphic design, and digital book development. Students, faculty, staff, and community partners are all encouraged to book and use this unique campus facility.

Inclusive Technology Lab

115-darrenhull-lib-bc3c0228In September 2015, the Library, in partnership with the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) and with private donor support, opened the Inclusive Technology Lab (ITL). The ITL provides students with a space to experiment with assistive technology, and is intended to provide students with equitable access to specialized technology to support their studies as well as encourage an open and inclusive dialogue around disability and technology.

Located in LIB 101, the ITL provides students with six assistive technology workstations, a distraction-reduced study space, and an accessible group study space. Additionally, assistive technology can be borrowed from the Library’s service desk. Peer and professional support is available to provide orientations and instruction on how to make the most of the technology available.

The ITL is open to students who have registered with the DRC (including in the case of short-term injury requiring accommodation), or who have been referred by a faculty member because of an interest in learning about assistive technology.

The ITL has also formed an advisory council made up of students, researchers and university staff with an interest in supporting and/or conducting research on students with disabilities and assistive technology. This council will help to advise the Library on how to best direct and evaluate the initiatives of the ITL with collaboration and innovation in mind.

Innovation Library

In September 2015, the Library officially launched its formal collaboration between the UBC Okanagan Library and the Okanagan Regional Library (ORL), opening the Innovation Library on the second floor of the ORL’s Kelowna branch, located on Ellis Street in downtown Kelowna. The Innovation Library supports all students, faculty, and staff from UBC’s Okanagan campus, and is uniquely positioned to serve the needs of students involved in experiential and community service learning opportunities, faculty members engaged with community-based research, and community researchers in the Okanagan. A unique two-year pilot project, the initiative was jointly supported by a private British Columbia-based foundation and the Irving K. Barber Learning fund.

Since opening, the Community Innovation Librarian assigned to the project has participated in creating a website and social media presence for the Library, developing promotional materials, and collaboratively planning and executing a series of events, including a closing event for the UBC Okanagan OneBook program, a Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon, a NaNoWriMo Research Night, and a Magna Carta presentation event. In addition, the Community Innovation Librarian has worked to foster relationships with partner organizations, including the Okanagan Regional Library, Accelerate Okanagan, Okanagan Young Professionals, 1space, Central Okanagan Heritage Society, and the Kelowna Innovation Society.

Website and social media assessment and enhancement

The Library’s virtual learning space – its website – remains one of its most used resources. According to Google Analytics installed on, the site averages nearly 9,000 unique users monthly, with an average of over 36,000 page views.

A project to review and improve the UBC Okanagan Library website architecture was completed in summer 2015, with user testing occurring in the fall of 2015. Overall, the response during user testing sessions was positive, with users commenting that the website is “useful for doing research and for finding specific things from home without having to physically come to the library until we know what we’re looking for” and that they “…like navigating it”, finding it “easy and well laid out.”

Compared to other UBC Library social media accounts, UBC Okanagan Library’s accounts regularly rank second in reach and impact, trailing only the UBC Library’s system-wide main social media account. For the period from July 2014-December 2015, the average reach of the Okanagan Library’s Twitter account was over 17,000 impressions monthly and the average reach of its Facebook page was over 33,000 views monthly. The Library added Instagram as a platform in August 2014 to reach additional users.

Learning Centre Project

November 2014 saw UBC Okanagan students stage a historic referendum resulting in the promise of a $10M contribution toward expansion of the existing Library footprint, articulated as one of UBC’s top capital priorities. A functional plan and aspirational renderings, based on the student feedback received during the #MoreLibrary campaign as well as a series of individual interviews with a selection of faculty members across all disciplines, were drafted to aid in obtaining provincial, institutional and private donor support for the project.

In 2016, the Library hopes to further engage students and other stakeholders to understand their vision and priorities for the expansion before the project enters a design phase. We hope this will ensure that we are prepared when adequate funding levels are reached to take the project forward.

For many years, the UBC Okanagan Library has had limited success in realizing the “Learning Commons” concept on this campus. While the Library benefits from successful partnerships with many campus groups, the fundamental lack of space to mount programming and bring these partners into the Library has complicated delivery on a true “Learning Commons”. One of the most successful initiatives in this area was the 2013 operationalization of the Learning and Technology Assistant (LTA) program, which employs students to provide technical and Connect support to students from our main Library service point.

In 2013, the Library refocused its vision and launched the #MORELIBRARY campaign in an effort to learn from students, faculty, staff, and community users what more the Library could do to improve engagement with its services, collections, and spaces. As of June 2014, over 600 students had participated in #MORELIBRARY through the library website, events, graffiti whiteboard, and social media.

MoreLibrary Method of Participation

This directed consultation effort led to greater understanding of perceptions of the Library, and attempted to respond to suggestions and concerns in a proactive and timely way. Under the auspices of this campaign, and based on campus feedback, several initiatives were undertaken this year:

Research and Strategy

A Library team assembled a 26-page report on trends in learning centre and library development, available at Librarians are now developing use cases to help determine the specific kinds of spaces that would be most useful to the work of UBC Okanagan faculty and students.

Space Enhancements

An additional study room was added to the existing inventory, and the VHS video collection was relocated to increase seating on the second floor. 128 seats were added in 2013-14, representing an increase of 20%. Signage was also added, reminding users to be thoughtful about noise levels, particularly in areas designated for quiet study.

Technology Enhancements

The software on Library computers was updated to significantly reduce login times, and 15 laptops were added to the technology lending program. Improvement of electrical capacity is underway in order to provide working outlets at the majority of Library study carrels.

Furniture Enhancements

Library Study Carrels

In 2013, new study carrels and chairs were added to the Library’s second floor quiet study areas, and additional tables and chairs were installed in the East Reading Room to improve silent study space. In addition, new tables and chairs for group work, as well as new study carrels, were added to the Library’s main floor, whiteboards were installed in all study rooms, and approximately 25 portable tables of different heights were provided for use with soft seating options.

In the absence of ideal physical spaces, the Library has undertaken a significant website redesign, providing users with a new virtual front door. The new Library website is scheduled for launch in early July 2014.