Favourite on-campus spot

Thomas Pashko

1. Library

2. Fourth-floor cafeteria

3. The University of Winnipeg Club

Campus libraries are often described as “the heart of the university,” and the University of Winnipeg library doesn’t take that for granted.

Librarian Joshua Herter works on user experience and assessment for the library.

“We’re always trying to improve the space,” he says. This year, they overhauled the once-cumbersome printing infrastructure based on results of a behavioural mapping study to identify that system’s “pain points.”

“We wanted to do what we could to minimize the frustrating nature of that system for everybody in the library,” he says.

While campus may feel a bit emptier than before the COVID-19 pandemic, Herter says when people are on campus, the library is busy as ever. Weekends and evenings have not yet recovered, but usage is growing steadily.

Feedback from students has reflected that losing access during the pandemic made the library’s value as a “third space” outside of home or classroom much clearer to many of its users.

“We were all under lockdown at one point where we suddenly realized, ‘Oh my god, I don’t want my workspace to be my home space,’” he says. “When people are on campus, they like ... being connected with other people, studying with their friends (and) being in an academic atmosphere to do that work.”

He says the library’s best- and most-underrated feature is its staff. Many students are unaware that the library offers research consultations. Not only will librarians provide detailed guidance on the tools, methods and resources best suited to a student’s research, but they’re also happy to talk about the stresses of academic life.

“We’re always here to help people, and we really enjoy doing that,” he says. “If you look at our Google reviews, that’s what’s on there. It’s like, ‘Hey, the place is a little shabby, but this staff member interceded when someone was bullying me.’”

Does it get more Winnipeg than that?

Published in Volume 78, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 30, 2023)

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