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UBC Reports Oct 9, 1969

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Vol. 15. No. 18/Oct. 9,1969/Vancouver 8, B.C.
ARCHITECT'S SKETCH shows the east face of the
new Sedgewick   Library as it will  be seen from in
pTront of UBC's existing Main Library. Area between
the two buildings will be landscaped as a garden court
and trees and shrubs on the north and south sides of
the lawn in front of the Main Library will be
preserved. Eight concrete caissons (four are shown in
the   sketch   above)   will   enclose   the  roots  of  the
existing trees on the Main Mall and will also form part
of the interior and exterior design of the new
two-storey Sedgewick Library. For other views of the
Sedgewick development, see pages two, three and four.
An exciting plan for a new Sedgewick
Undergraduate Library under the Main Mall has been
approved by the Board of Governors.
. Architects Rhone & Iredale were given permission
at a Board meeting Tuesday to prepare working
drawings for the 112,000-square-foot building.
The structure will correct a critical lack of
undergraduate library space.
The design proposed by the architects is an
ingenious solution to a seemingly insoluble problem:
how to create an attractive new library facility,
located where studies show it ought to be—that is,
immediately west of the existing library—without
destroying the traditional character of the treed Main
Mall and adjacent lawns.
The solution: construct the new library under the
mall. This makes it possible to preserve all but one of
the 40-year-old pin oaks and the vistas they frame
along UBC's main street.
But the architects wanted to create a light, open
environment for learning, not just an underground
knowledge vault. They have accomplished this second
objective by designing the new library in such a way
that its east and west faces will open out onto
landscaped courtyards in front of the Main Library
and the mathematics building. Every room in the
building will have an attractive view onto one or
other of these garden courts.
Commented Dr. Robert M. Clark, director of
academic planning:
"I think the plans, as amended to meet earlier
criticisms, are the most imaginative building proposals
I have seen presented on this campus since 1946."
Eight concrete caissons—each 30 feet in
diameter—will be built around the tree roots and
incorporated into the building. The trees will
continue to dominate the open area above the library
roof. The caissons will run down through the two
floors providing visual anchors to the building.
On the east face of the building the caissons will
be partially exposed and from ground level will
appear as turrets thrusting up to the Main Mall. These
towers will divide the glass curtain walls that will face
out onto a landscaped court and the Main Library.
From the surface of Main Mall the caissons will
appear as simple concrete rings around the eight oaks.
But because of their integration into the structure of
the library, the caissons will make the building a
gigantic flower pot, perhaps the world's biggest.
Library and trees will be rooted together, each
dependent on the other.
The design magnifies the role of the Main Mall
trees as the most traditional feature of the
University's campus. Not only will the caissons make
students using the library constantly aware of the
trees' presence but they will reinforce the
appreciation of the trees students now have on top of
the Main Mall.
To add to visual orientation and empathy, a
glass-topped caisson will extend down through the
building, offering a view down from the mall into the
two floor areas below or up into the tree branches
One of the pin oaks on the west side of the Main
Mall will have to be removed in order to permit
construction of the entry to the new Sedgewick
The key to the project, say architectural
representatives Bob Todd and Richard Henriquez, is
the elevation contour between the Main Library and
the mathematics building.
The level of asphalt on the Main Mall is about 12
feet higher than the entrance to the present
Sedgewick Library. Twelve feet is approximately the
height of each of the two floors of the new building.
This means that the entrance to the present
Sedgewick Library will be on the same level as the
entrance to the new building 12 feet beneath the
Main Mall.
Earth on the east and west side of the Main Mall
will be excavated to a depth of slightly more than 24
feet from the top of the asphalt so that the bottom of
the new building will be about 12 feet or the
equivalent of one storey lower than the entrance to
the old Sedgewick Library.
"The slope from the Main Library will be
reversed," Todd said. "Instead of sloping up 12 feet
to the Main Mall as it does now, it will slope down 12
feet to the lower floor of the new building."
Most people are not conscious of the slope from
Main Mall to the Main Library now. The reverse slope
will be just as unobtrusive. The slope of 12 feet along
this length is hardly noticeable."
Mr. Henriquez said the mathematics building is
about eight feet lower than the asphalt on Main Mall.
Distance between the new library and the
mathematics building will be approximately 100 feet.
The building will be about 320 feet long across the
Main Mall and 280 feet wide parallel to the roadway.
The slopes to the new building will be terraced and
landscaped as garden courts. The Ladner Clock Tower
and pool in front of the Main Library will be
preserved as well as the trees and shrubs on the north
and south sides of the Library lawn.
"The Main Mall area above the library will be filled
in and landscaped," Mr. Todd said. "Paved walkways
will be built. No provision is being made for vehicular
traffic. We hope the area will become a meeting place
with benches, a place to meet friends or have a chat."
Space in the old Sedgewick Library has been
inadequate for years. The present library has only
12,867 square feet, less than 20 per cent of the floor
space of the new library.
Stacks in the new library will have a capacity of
200,000 volumes compared with 80,000 in the
present Sedgewick Library. The Committee on
Academic   Planning   Needs  reported   to   Senate  last
Please turn to page four
In the following interview UBC's librarian, Mr. Basil
Stuart-Stubbs, discusses the current problems facing the
Library and the new plan for the Sedgewick
undergraduate library.
UBC REPORTS: What are the main problems for the
library at present and what are the main problems that
students face in trying to use the existing library
MR. STUART-STUBBS: The main problems for
students are first, finding the materials they want when
they want them and, second, finding a place to use those
materials once they secure them. Practically all of the
libraries on campus, with the exception of the smaller
and newer branch libraries in academic buildings, are
crowded for most of the year. We are simply short of
space in all of the libraries, although the situation at the
P.A. Woodward Biomedical Library will be much
improved when the new extension is opened sometime
next year.
UBC REPORTS: In your most recent reports to
Senate, you point out that in recent years library
utilization has increased enormously and seemingly out
of proportion to the increase in student population.*
This phenomenon seems to indicate the library in 1969
is serving different purposes for students than it was ten
or so years ago. Can you comment on this?
MR. STUART-STUBBS: I think I can relate all this
for you to developments that are taking place in
knowledge itself. The library tends to reflect the state of
human knowledge and what is taking place in its various
parts. I think there are three characteristics that apply to
knowledge. By knowledge I mean not just scientific
information but knowledge in the broadest sense,
including creative works of literature, art, music and so
The first aspect of knowledge is its vast increase in
dimension. There's simply more of it than there was
before and it continues to be produced and recorded at a
greater and greater rate all the time.
The second characteristic of knowledge these days is
its specialization. While there is more of it, it's also much
more refined and detailed in its various parts.
And the third aspect of knowledge is its
inter-disciplinary character, particularly at universities.
*ln the past decade enrolment at the University of B.C. has
increased 90 per cent, while recorded library use has increased
383 per cent.
The boundaries between the traditional disciplines are
being dissolved. The university reacts to this by joint
appointments in departments or by setting up institutes
and so on.
Now these three elements of knowledge, the amount
of it, the specialization of it and the fact that a variety
of people will be making use of the same parts of
knowledge but for different purposes, tend to create a
problem for library users. How does a library handle
We have to consider this against a background of
more than 22,000 students and faculty members and a
large physical plant spread over a wide area.
The library's adjustment to this has been to develop a
series of branch libraries, in contrast to the situation of
ten or 15 years ago when a university of 5,000 or 6,000
students could get along quite well with one central
library which held all the collections and offered all the
Because of the inter-disciplinary requirement, the
needs of most users can be served by locating in the right
parts of the campus fairly large multi-disciplinary
libraries. The Woodward Biomedical Library is a good
example and contains the collections relative to all the
life sciences, ranging from medicine to zoology and
Now you've pointed to the fact that there's been
increased use of the library by students. We're aware
that faculty members, in their adjustment to the fact of
an increased amount of knowledge are recommending or
actually requiring increased reading for their students.
So the heat is on the library to make this material
I should point out that while the dimensions of the
problem are increasing, people still expect, and I think
they have a right to expect, that the library will be as
easy as possible to use, that in fact it should be possible
for a user to walk into a library, to have its resources
self-evident at a glance and to be able to get what he
wants. This despite the diversity of materials, despite the
fact that some information could be in book form, some
in periodicals, government documents, in microform and
some in the form of recordings. Later on we will have
the information on magnetic tapes, which will require
the use of a computer before the user can benefit.
UBC REPORTS: So if we can summarize briefly, the
problems that the library faces are a combination of
many factors, chiefly the growth of knowledge and the
Librarian Basil Stuart-Stubbs points to area where new,
response by faculty that requires students to use the    «   ■,
library in a different way.
MR. STUART-STUBBS: That's correct. There's no
question that it's a very much more difficult and
demanding thing to be a student in 1969 than it was in
1950, and I can speak from some personal knowledgr^^
UBC REPORTS: I wonder now if you can tell us in
more detail what the nature of the response on the part
of the library has been to these problems in recent
years? And could you put the plan for the new
Sedgewick Library in the context of that response?
MR. STUART-STUBBS: I suppose one of the
earliest responses was the construction of the Walter
Koerner (south) Wing of the main library which was
completed in 1960. At that time a number of specialized
reference divisions were set up to replace a general
reference division. So you see the library was
acknowledging the fact that it couldn't really deal with
all knowledge at one service point. ' '
library entrance
Sedgewick Library will be built under Main Mall
, This trend has continued. Today you can go to the
ibrary and find a division which specializes in nothing
but maps and another which specializes in the fine arts
and architecture, among others. Another response was
the Woodward Biomedical Library, a gift to the
univerafck And yet another response was the
$3,OO0WO gift of Dr. H.R. MacMillan, which was
expended over a period of three years for the purchase
of specialized material for graduate studies.
Now this trend has continued and in the last few
yoans we have opened special libraries for forestry,
agriculture, mathematics, music, and social work and the
existing libraries for law and education have been greatly
improved and increased in size. This trend must
continue, but unfortunately it is not continuing at a fast
enough rate to keep abreast of the requirements of the
faculty and students, with the result that we run out of
space for books and people.
This, of course, is detrimental to the success of the
academic    program.    Faculty    members   expect   their
CROSS SECTION shows the relationship between the new
Sedgewick Library, under Main Mall at centre, to the Main
Library at extreme right and the mathematics building at
extreme left. Entry to the new Sedgewick Library will be
on the same level as entry to the Main Library.
students to do their assignments and in order to do this
they must have convenient access to the materials they
need. I think even faculty members sometimes
underestimate the amount of pressure under which
students work and how much of their day is absorbed in
reading assignments. The student has a very complex and
busy life.
UBC REPORTS: You've spoken of the need for
improving and expanding branch libraries. Can you now
tell us how the new Sedgewick Library fits into this
MR. STUART-STUBBS: Well, let's look at the
history of the Sedgewick Library very briefly. It came
into existence in the Walter Koerner Wing in 1960 as a
kind of library within a library; it's a separate unit in the
main library building.
It was designed for first- and second-year students in
arts only. But it quickly became evident that this
artificial distinction wasn't appropriate. In fact, students
from third- and fourth-year arts and other faculties
found the collections to be very useful to them. So we
followed their lead by developing the collection and the
services so that we could meet the needs of
undergraduate students in the first four years of arts,
commerce and education.
Now the effect of this has been that the Sedgewick
Library lends almost as many books—almost half a
million withdrawals a year—as are lent from the main
library. The striking thing about this is that there are
about 700,000 volumes in the main stacks, whereas
there are only about 80,000 volumes in the Sedgewick
What is it about these Sedgewick Library books that
is so important? The collection has been developed from
recommended reading lists provided by faculty, from
basic bibliographies and also from the records that we've
been keeping of the loans that people make. We've
registered all these things on computer tape and we're
able to determine which books borrowed from the
Sedgewick Library collection and from other collections
in other libraries on campus are of most interest to the
We've purchased copies of these books and put them
in the Sedgewick Library, so that every year it becomes
a better collection from the point of view of the
students in arts, science and education. Now we've been
told by the academic planner that these are the faculties
which will attract the largest number of undergraduates
in the next few years. The Sedgewick facilities are past
the point where they are adequate for the needs of the
students. The best thing we can do for the students in
the future is to build an expanded version of the
Sedgewick Library which has been so successful to date.
UBC REPORTS: So it is by carefully reviewing the
collection that you draw students to the library. So in a
sense you're a victim of your own energies.
MR. STUART-STUBBS: I suppose you could put it
that way, but I would say that all we're trying to do is
satisfy the customer.
UBC REPORTS: At the same time, the customer, the
students, becomes more demanding every year.
MR. STUART-STUBBS: That's correct. I might add
that we're the only library that I know of in North
America, or the world for that matter, which has taken
this approach to the development of a collection. We're
the only one that has the capacity to do it because our
circulation system remains the largest one in North
America of its type.
UBC REPORTS: When you say "of its type," what
do you mean?
MR. STUART-STUBBS: I'm speaking about the
computer-based system we use. There are other similar
computer-based systems, but none is as large or as
efficient as ours.
UBC REPORTS: Just one final question. Given the
situation you've described, there must also be grave
staffing problems for the library. Has the library had
great difficulties in this area and how has it responded?
MR. STUART-STUBBS: We have succeeded in
assembling a highly trained and well motivated staff of
reference librarians who can assist the users of the
library in finding their way around it. I mentioned
earlier that people expect the purpose of any particular
library to be self-evident. It isn't that simple. A person
can use a library only with basic assistance or
The staff in the Sedgewick Library are all recent
graduates of the university. They understand the
student's situation and can help him.
In addition, we established two years ago a division of
general information and orientation. The function of
this division is to help a student to understand how the
library functions. This year we are employing
audio-visual techniques to help us get the message across
and we've been able to give some elementary instruction
on library techniques to the largest numbers ever.
main library
UBC Reports/October 9, 1969/3 LIBRARY
Continued from page one
summer that after 1971 some collections in the
present library would have to go into storage if new
facilities weren't provided.
The report added that 120 library staff members
on the seventh floor of the main library are working
in an overcrowded area with poor lighting and
Nevertheless, after reviewing these facts, the
committee concluded that the most critical problem
was the shortage of study space for undergraduates.
Study space in the present Sedgewick Library can
accommodate only 486 students. The Main Library
has another 1,267 study seats. More than 2,400
study spaces will be provided in the new Sedgewick
The top and smaller of the new library's two floors
will have 18,000 square feet of study area without
direct access to the stacks. It will be used by students
who simply want a place to work. Service facilities
such as catalogues, periodicals, book sorting and staff
offices will take up another 36,000 square feet on the
top floor.
The lower floor will consist of 60,000 square feet
of stacks and reading areas.
Architects will consult students before designing
the study areas.
"We want to get away from the traditional rows of
tables and stiff-backed chairs. We would like to use
the latest ideas in what has become known as interior
landscaping to give students a variety of study
environments," Mr. Todd said.
Rhone & Iredale worked with the University's
client's committee on the project as well as with the
design and planning division of the physical plant
department and the Office of Academic Planning.
The property committee of the Board of
Governors,    at    a    hearing    in    September,    heard
MODEL shows how the new Sedgewick Library will
be located between the Main Library, top, and the
mathematics building, bottom. Eight concrete
caissons, enclosing the roots of existing trees on the
Main Mall, will travel down through the two-storey
building. Students on both floors will be able to look
4/UBC Reports/October 9, 1969
out both east and west onto landscaped courtyards in
front of the Main Library and the mathematics
building. The large circular opening in the Main Mall
is an open cylinder which will allow passersby to look
down into the two-storey Library and allow students
in the Library to see the trees above.
expressions of opinions by representatives of the
client's committees for the Sedgewick Library and for
the proposed extension to the Buchanan Building, the
Senate Liaison Committee on Planning Permanent
Buildings, and the academic planner. Dr. Douglas
Kenny, who represented the Buchanan committee, is
also chairman of the Senate Committee on Academic
Building Needs.
Out of this hearing came suggestions for a less
formal landscaping treatment of the garden courts.
This is now under study.
As a result of this hearing the property committee
decided to recommend to the Board of Governors
that the project proceed to working drawings.
Rhone & Iredale was commissioned in February to
produce a design for the library. Members of the firm
and the Sedgewick Library staff made traffic studies
of students using the existing library, plotting where
the students came from on campus and where they
"It was determined that the new library should be
located west of the Main Library and approximately
in the middle of what we designated as the arts—pure
science precinct, which is the area bounded by East
Mall, University Boulevard, West Mall and Crescent
Road," Mr. Henriquez said.
Mr. K.L. Chang of Rhone & Iredale and Mr.
Charles F. Forbes, assistant head of the Sedgewick
Library, visited libraries throughout Canada and the
United States to determine the best configuration for
the new library.
"Both functionally and economically the best
design was a two-storey building with large, flexible
floor spaces and easy access to stacks from reading
areas," Mr. Todd said. ■
The next step was to decide where the library
should be built. Sites on the lawn in front of the Main
Library and the site of the Women's Gymnasium were
"We finally decided to put it under the Main Mall.
Excavation and landscaping costs will be higher than
normal," Mr. Todd said. "But if a value were given to
maintaining open spaces on the campus under the
present student population density, the extra costs
would be a small price to pay."
Mr. Todd said that landscaping costs will be offset
to a large extent by savings in the design of exterior
walls. More than half the wall area will be covered
with earth and will not require expensive facade
The scheme's respect for the traditional
appearance of the Main Mall area conforms to
observations made by the Senate Liaison Committee
on Planning Permanent Buildings headed by Dr. H.
Peter Oberlander, director of the School of
Community and Regional Planning.
In a report to Senate the committee maintained
that the library should be located west of the Main
Mall to service future buildings in the area.
"The prevailing academic environment and
landscape of the central part of the campus has
usually been identified with the very essence of
UBC's character," the report said.
"It is the committee's recommendation that the
existing form and quality should be preserved and
enhanced as effectively as possible.
"The committee feels that the existing trees are
particularly responsible for the character and setting
of the space in front of the library and that every
effort must be made to maintain the trees, the
substantial grass areas and a number of other small
landscape features."
■■■%Jfc Volume 15, No. 18-Oct. 9,
ll||n 1969. Published by the
llljll University of British Columbia
^ar^aw^ar and distributed free. J.A.
REPORTS Banham, Editor; Barbara
Claghorn, Production Supervisor. Letters to the
Editor should be addressed to the Information
Office, UBC, Vancouver 168, B.C.


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