UBC Opens $79.7M Irving K. Barber Learning Centre

Lifelong learning for British Columbians was celebrated today with the official grand opening of the $79.7-million Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC.

“It is very satisfying to see the completion of a facility that has been so embraced by its users. It’s an encouraging sign that the Learning Centre will accomplish its objectives,” said UBC alumnus and donor Irving K. (Ike) Barber, founder and former chairman of Slocan Forest Products Ltd.

“The new Irving K. Barber Learning Centre is an outstanding educational facility that will meet the research and learning needs of students, teachers, First Nations and communities right across the province for decades to come,” said Premier Gordon Campbell.  “I commend Ike Barber for his tremendous commitment to higher education and the incredible gift he has given to all British Columbians. I’m proud that the Province could partner with him to make the dream of this centre a reality.”

“We’re delighted that Dr. Barber’s vision and generosity have allowed UBC to create this exceptional centre,” said UBC president Stephen J. Toope. “It enables UBC to share the wealth of its collections and further expand learning opportunities.”

In 2002, Dr. Barber donated more than $20 million for the construction of the Learning Centre at UBC. The B.C. government contributed $10 million, and UBC provided the balance of funding. Now under one roof are UBC’s School for Library and Archival Science and UBC programs that have pioneered interdisciplinary learning for undergraduates, which include Arts One, Science One and the Coordinated Arts and Coordinated Science programs.

Located at UBC’s Vancouver campus, the innovative Learning Centre is built around the refurbished core of the 1925 UBC Main Library, one of the first buildings constructed on the UBC campus.

It offers 250,000 square feet of new and renovated space that supports learning and research for users at UBC, throughout the province and beyond. The Learning Centre is also a gateway to the University of British Columbia Library, the province’s largest academic library, with a collection of more than 10 million items.

Five years in the building, the Learning Centre boasts Canada’s first robotic library storage unit, extensive study spaces, a lecture theatre, meeting halls and seminar rooms that support a wide variety of learning needs and provide space for community events. There is even a new java bar called Ike’s Café.

The Centre features the first installation of an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) in a Canadian library. The ASRS, also known as the “library robot,” is capable of holding 1.8 million volumes and can retrieve items in less than a minute by remote-controlled hydraulic lifts.

The Learning Centre is equipped with high-speed Internet access and video-conferencing capabilities to connect users with the world. The entire facility is equipped to support wireless technology, both inside and out.

Outreach projects include webcasts of lectures, symposia and other events. As part of its mandate to promote lifelong learning and community outreach, the Learning Centre has supported the development of various digitization projects that will offer open and unrestricted access to B.C.’s unique historical material, such as newspapers and photographs.

Additional highlights of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre include:

  • new homes for Rare Books and Special Collections, and University Archives;
  • Chapman Learning Commons, a refurbished reading room in the historic Main Library core;
  • comfortable furnishings and expansive study spaces in the Golden Jubilee Room and the Ridington Room;
  • a parliamentary-style classroom;
  • cutting-edge classrooms such as the 157-seat Victoria Learning Theatre;
  • teaching and learning support units, including the Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth and the Office of Learning Technology; and
  • adaptable classrooms that encourage solo and group study.

For more information about the Learning Centre, visit www.ikebarberlearningcentre.ubc.ca.

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