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Learning Library opens it's doors to a world of opportunities

The Harris Learning Library is open and ready to connect students, faculty and community to a world of learning and opportunities.

The Harris Learning Library is open and ready to connect students, faculty and community to a world of learning and opportunities.

Canadore College and Nipissing University held the grand opening for the $25 million state-of-the-art facility on Saturday to celebrate the many donors who contributed to the successful campaign.

"Today marks a very exciting day for our two institutions, our students and faculty, and our entire community," Nipissing University President Lesley Lovett-Doust told the audience.

She says that everyone will benefit greatly from the new building that will provide an outstanding environment for learning and collaboration.

"Here our students, faculty, staff and members of our community can access the world of knowledge and understanding, in a building that is truly beautiful."

During her speech, she thanked all the donors who contributed both publicly and privately.

"Your generosity and investment in our vision have made this wonderful new library a reality."

Lovett-Doust's wasn’t alone in the enthusiasm.

"We are so excited to be opening the doors of our new library to our students, donors, partners and communities," says Canadore College President George Burton.

Burton says that the building is a tremendous resources for all and is a testament to supportive working relationships between regional communities and the post-secondary institutions that serve them, as well as the unique partnership between Canadore and Nipissing.

"This resource will provide ongoing support for our current and future students," he said.

The new 56,000 square foot, three-storey facility was designed by world-renowned firm Diamond + Schmitt Architects, with on-site architectural support by Evens Bertrand Hill Wheeler Architecture Inc. It is twice the size of the previous library and includes more space for collaborative work as individual study.

The library also provides increased connectivity with regional campuses and the ever-expanding world of digital resources available today.

There will be immediate benefits to the entire region as well. Through the PALS (Public and Academic Libraries Sharing) initiative, surrounding community libraries will be able to access resources and services in the Harris Learning Library, and Canadore and Nipissing students will in turn have access to the holdings of nine regional public libraries.

A special feature of the library will be a suite of rooms, the Treaty Learning Centre, designed for study and discourse on the vast history and experiences of First Nations in Canada, and the experiences, obligations and promises for all Canadians embodied in Treaties.

Brian Nettlefold, Executive Director of the Harris Learning Library, says that from the Library's point of view, what's really important is the different types of study space that they can now offer students in terms of individual or group study.

"We now have the opportunity to provide the teaching of information literacy skills … skills that will serve students for a lifetime of learning."

The new technology installed in the building puts them at the same level of other institutions.

"The student's expect a certain level of technology and we're now able to reach that level of technology that they will want for their studies," he says.

Nettlefold says that the structure of the building is such that it will last easily 25-30 years. What he thinks will change inside the building is the technology and the way in which information and education is delivered to students.

"It doesn't really matter, from our point of view, whether the student is on or off campus,” he says.
"We have the resources here to make that work for that student wherever that student may happen to be."

Investment in the Harris Learning Library came from a variety of sources. Nipissing and Canadore raised $7 million from individual donors and corporations in a successful fund raising campaign. The Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities contributed $18 million, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund contributed $1 million and FedNor contributed $500,000 to the project.

Nipissing MPP Monique Smith says that the completion of the library is another example of a great partnership that exists between Canadore and Nipissing with support from the McGuinty government.

"These new, state-of-the-art learning resources will improve post-secondary education in Northern Ontario,” she says.

Former Ontario Premier and Library namesake Mike Harris was also on hand for the Grand Opening.

"It is a very special day for the Harris Family,” he says.

Harris, who was MPP for Nipissing from 1981-2002, says the naming was an unsolicited honour made by his dear friend Seymour Schulich, a Canadian businessman and Philanthropist as well as a great benefactor of education across the country.

"This is a celebration of a wonderful partnership -- partnership of governments, a partnership of two great institutions, Canadore College and Nipissing University and a partnership of the community."

Harris says that none of this would have happened if any one of the links were not in place and that it's been a success of great projects, whether it's business or government or institutions around the world. He also says that North Bay is leading the way in these kinds of partnerships with a facility that elevates the city to a new status.

"For me to be a very small part of it is an honour. I'm very proud."

Yannick Benoit, a Canadore College Legal Studies student who is transferring to Nipissing next year to complete his degree, says that the facility is a wonderful gift for the students.

Benoit says it shows that the community and the institutions are dedicated to giving quality education and resources.

"When I walked into the library, I was amazed at just how open ended the facilities are. I saw exactly what student's today need now and there's room for growth. The information and technology is all here. There's resources for every type of project you can think of."

He says that it's a one-stop place for everything a student needs in terms of socializing, gaining access to educational resources and learning opportunities.

"It's a fabulous facility and I look forward to using it for my studies during my academic year."

Trina Prince, a graduate from Nipissing University and former Vice President of Student Life, says that it's all part of the two institutions growing in unison. She thinks that the library is a wonderful asset that students will want to use on a regular basis.

"If I were a new student, I'd be thrilled knowing that I have the newest, coolest library at a great college and university."

Prince says the naturally bright and open-conceptualized space is going to be a great spot for students to hang out.

"I can see myself grabbing a good book and crashing here for a few hours to read," she says.

To recognize and thank donors, Canadore and Nipissing have built a unique and eye-catching donor tree that is featured prominently in the building.

Now the students can say "hey, meet me under the tree,” Prince says.