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Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

By Paul Ayris, on 17 February 2018

New Student Centre

Friday 16 February 2018 saw the topping out ceremony for the new Student Centre. This tremendous building development is a pivotal objective of the UCL 2034 strategy and of the Library Strategy, which are designed to enhance the Student Experience and to provide an environment fit for education, research and outreach in the 21st century.

The photograph to the left shows the current state of the interior of the building. Topping out marks the fact that the building has reached its full height in terms of construction. No fitting out has yet been undertaken in the interior of the building. That comes next.

A large group of UCL staff, including members from the Library, joined the construction teams to celebrate the topping out ceremony. There were a number of speeches to mark the occasion led by the Provost and President of UCL, Professor Michael Arthur. The Provost spoke of the importance of the UCL 2034 strategy to deliver a first class student and research experience. The delivery of the vision contained in UCL 2034 is of fundamental importance for the future health and vitality of the institution as one of the great research universities of the world.

The topping out ceremony itself took the form of the Provost inscribing a concrete block with his name and title, which will now be secured into the structure of the building.

The Student Centre, when fully open this time next year, will mark a transformation for the service which the Library can provide to UCL students. The building will be operated by the Library and contain 1000 digitally-enabled learning spaces. There will be no paper provision in the building. Library collections will remain in the existing UCL family of libraries. If borrowed by the student they can, of course, be brought to the new Student Centre for personal use. The type of learning spaces the Library will provide is being closely modelled on the learning spaces which we already provide in the Cruciform Hub and in the UCL Institute of Child Health. These are in fact the model we aspire to for all UCL’s libraries.

One of the most striking things, which I noticed when I joined the UCL group for the topping out ceremony, is that the views from the top of the building are stunning. Pictured here is the view of Wilkins’ Dome in UCL and UCLH across the road in Gower Street. And the Student Centre will offer a new thoroughfare through UCL, helping to unite the campus and to bring a greater sense of community to staff and students on the site.

The opening of the Student Centre marks a very important development for the Library. It will transform the Student Experience and the way students use libraries and learning spaces across UCL. This will give us the opportunity to continue to re-think our existing library spaces and how they are used.

The topping out ceremony marks the start of a year of communication in and from the Library as UCL fits out the interior of the building and we plan for the full operation of the Centre. Ben Meunier this week gave an interview to CILIP, and there will be other interviews and national Newsletter articles to announce the birth of what is a major development in academic libraries throughout the whole country. It augurs well for a bright future for UCL students working in a cutting-edge building.

Paul Ayris


UCL Library Services

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