Revolutionising library spaces at the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Health Sciences

Posted on March 09, 2022

The refurbishment project of the Health Sciences Faculty Library is currently underway and is estimated to be completed in early 2023. This project is funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training’s Clinical Training Grant. With changes in the library and information science (LIS) environment, the library wants to offer more than just bookshelves and a study space, the aim is to create an experience that stimulates a conducive and productive space – encouraging creativity, collaboration as well as a hub of learning and discovery.

The library wanted to involve its users in creating a 21st century library, with modern amenities and the latest technologies suited to the users’ needs, therefore, a user experience (UX) research project was conducted to determine what the users' needs were. The research was done through observation, journey mapping and feedback from love/breakup letters written by library users regarding physical library resources such as discussion rooms, tables, computers, and chairs - detailing their love or frustration with the specific resource.  Along with the latest trends in technology and physical spaces, the results of the UX project were incorporated into the final project plan. The refurbished library space will include the following:

  • Renewal of building systems with new infrastructure
  • Redesigned entrance with social learning spaces that connect the library space to the foyer
  • A new multi-functional 24-hour study area with a separate entrance
  • Open social space for ‘non-quiet’ reading or research that complements the ‘quiet’ study area
  • 16 multi-functional meeting or seminar rooms of which 6 converts into training labs
  • Hot desks around the library
  • Laptop loan services for users
  • A virtual reality room, and many more exciting technological trends

Renovations will also include a newly designed circulation and office space for library staff; new furniture; redesigned study area as well as new restrooms. There will also be an increased number of network and plug points - each study desk boasting its own plug point. To accommodate all these new and exciting changes in our library space, some compromises had to be made- including the removal of 75% of the bookshelves, however, we are not completely removing our collection. To assist with this challenge, the Faculty of Health Sciences offered the library some space to accommodate the print collection.

Safety plays an important role in keeping our community and resources safe.  The spatial layout is planned to clearly show circulation areas for both abled and disabled users. The building will include disability emergency access and will be fitted with the latest security cameras as well as adhere to fire safety regulations and occupational health and safety regulations.

The Department of Library Services looks forward to students utilising resources in the newly refurbished library.


- Author Kabelo Kgarosi and Cindy-Lee Daniels
Published by Anna Semenya

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