Shannon Library has Sacred Stacks, Set in a Divine Institution
As the cornerstone of any academic institution, libraries and their collections are built to support the institutions they serve. The collections in the STM library support the Liberal Arts disciplines taught at the college, with an original focus on Catholicism. In recent years, that has broadened to include materials in many global faiths and spiritualities and has concerned itself with both human and global issues of the 21 Century.
As living entities, libraries grow and change over time. The first STM library began in 1927 in the white house which then housed St. Thomas More College. The book collection started with a few books purchased by Fr. Markle, and as the collections grew, the library moved to a larger space in the white house. In 1956, the library was moved to the beautifully paneled room with an upper balcony in the main corridor of the original stone building. It outgrew that space and moved in 1964 in the newly constructed library wing. This was achieved in part due to a Canada Council grant of 268,911 for the Library and the Art Gallery. The entire cost of the construction for this wing, including cafeteria classroom, and second floor offices was 750,000. During this time, it was named after the Shannon brothers who had constructed the original stone building.
Please see the sections below for additional information and time-lines.
Shannon Library Through the Decades
A Humble Beginning
St. Thomas More College made its first home in Newman Hall, typically called the White House on College Drive, on the University of Saskatchewan campus. The Library began with just a few books purchased by Fr. Basil Markle in 1927. The collection slowly growing over the next few years.
The growing collection needs more space
In anticipation of an influx of students at the end of WWII, STM College added an expansion to The White House. In 1943, the St. Thomas More library was relocated to a large room in the addition.
*Expansion is to the left and back of the orginal white house*
Students enjoy the library in its new space, 1953
The library and its growing collection were housed in the enlarged quarters of the expanded white house for more than 10 years. Eventually, the increasing number of students required an entirely new building.
Relocated into the stone building
An increasing number of students called for the construction of a new building.
Once the Shannon brothers completed construction of the first section of the greystone building in 1957, STM library occupied the oak panelled room now known as Chelsea Commons, located in the main corridor of the original stone building.
The library was complete with a mezzanine and alcoves which comprised the stacks. An iron circular staircase was used to access the upper levels and was later transported to the new library location, in 1963. The students enjoyed this unique, quiet space for less than 10 years before the collection quickly outgrew this room.
The photo above is taken from the ground level of the library, with a view of the mezzanine above.
From the mezzanine itself, one can see the original double height library. The iron staircase is in the rear alcove on the left.
Rapid Growth at the College Demanded Expansion
The dramatic increase of student registrations in the 1950's required St. Thomas More Colleege to undertake a major construction project. Expansion began with the erection of the original greystone building in 1954. Phase two of STM College began in 1962 with an addition of a new wing. A spacious library and stack area was given top priority. A grant was received from the Canada Council for $268,911 to construct the library and art gallery. The library encompassed the second floor of the new building, and a cafeteria was on the ground level. The entire cost for this addition was 750,000.
In just 12 years, St. Thomas More went from a small white frame house to almost 58,000 square feet of stone and steel. The new addition had its official opening ceremonies and received a blessing February 6, 1964.
Named to Commemorate the Brothers Who Constructed the Original Stone Building
This spacious new library opened in time for a dramatic wave of growth. Student enrolment more than doubled between 1960 and 1966. The trend of increasing student registration continued. "The most important work of the College involves learning and teaching, and one of the main supports for this work is the library and its resources.'' -Margaret Sanche (Heartwood, 1986). These were two of the driving factors that required the college to accomodate the students' needs with more library materials.
The library received several large contributions of books and funds over the next two decades to help meet student demand. Donors included J. Francis Leddy, Bernadine Bujila, Frank Shannon and the Steven Gradish family. At the end of 1985, Shannon library contained more than 43,000 books and periodicals and a student body that had double in number again since 1966.
Computer Lab in Shannon Library
Shannon Library created a computer lab to prepare for the launch of new networking technology, funded by part of $500,000 STM recieved from the province’s Centenary Capital Fund. Offices were renovated and removed to accommodate for needs of faculty, staff and students in the future. A ribbon cutting to open the new computer lab, pictured above left, was held November 15, 2000. Glenn Hagel cuts the ribbon joined by, from left, STM President Rev. George Smith, MLA Graham Addley, MLA Peter Prebble, and STM Librarian Donna Brockmeyer-Klebaum. The lab was funded by part of $500,000 announced for STM from the province’s Centenary Capital Fund. Proposals and ideas were submitted but the design ultimately chosen for the computer lab is pictured above on the right.
Elegance and Function
In July 2001, custom oak and glass display bookcase and shelves were built (seen above). They add style, charm, and architecture to the library while offering the functionality of a space that is able protect and showcase some of the more valueable items in our collection.
Shelves hung on the back wall (seen above) prior to 2001, did not offer enough space for our growing collection, nor did it add to the sophisticated look Shannon library is now known for. The new custom design doubled the amount of shelf space at the back of the reading room.
Launch of the Library Catalogue Integration
In 2002, STM’s Shannon Library and The U of S Library entered into a Library Catalogue Integration Agreement which founded the merge of the two library catalogues. This milestone was long awaited by both institutions. The idea was first proposed in 1989, and options and estimates for this initiative were investigated many times since.
Finally realized in 2003, the merge of the catalogues enabled students, researchers, faculty and staff to quickly find all combined holdings. This collaboration meant new book acquisitions could be coordinated more easily, avoiding duplication and making better use of funds. As well as being able to better leverage governmental resources and improve library automation and information technology.
This merger has reinforced and strengthened the partnership between St. Thomas More and the University of Saskatchewan.
As the library director for STM, Dr. Donna Brockmeyer hosted an opening for the launch of the joint library catalogue. Aboriginal singer and drummer, Joesph Naytowhow performed and the program also featured STM president George Smith, CSB and Frank Winter, the library director for the U of S.
|The original 1960's flooring (left) was replaced in 2008, with a new, quiet vinyl tile (right).|
|Before it was replaced, the off-white and grey flooring gave Shannon library an instutional feel.|
|Not only do the cream and chocolate brown checkered tiles fit the colour and decor better, but they really warm the atmosphere at Shannon library. It extends a feeling of home away from home, which has always been a priority at STM.|
Library Board of Governors
Approves The Expansion to Shannon Library
The Board of Governors approved a north expansion, which allowed for a newly configured library space. The new space was primarily dedicated to book stacks, amalgamating the entire collection onto one floor. The space also featured seating along a vast expanse of north-facing windows, as well as a fire-place seating area.
This 498 sm (5360 sf) addition included the preservation of three exterior walls. The existing stone design was an important piece of architectural history which added to the heritage and charm of STM. The stones of the exterior facade were cleaned and kept exposed to add character as the interior walls of Shannon Library, helping to blend old and new elements. Connecting the three existing walls is a smooth, curved, curtain wall, constructed to be highly distinguishable from the original architecture, rather than compete with the existing design.
Construction for the New Expansion
Lasted for More Than 15 Months
Shannon Library remained open throughout, with limited access for students and faculty
Shannon Library Reopens
as a Newly Redesigned Space for Students
"We Shape our Buildings; Thereafter They Shape Us." - Winston Churchill
|Four spacious window boxes offer comfortable and tranquil nooks to snuggle into. While reclining chairs by the fireplace invite students to a cozy meeting spot.||The library has been upgraded to include the use of high-density shelving. This allowed all the books to be stored on one floor yet still accommodated room for students to study comfortably.|
|A new suspended barrel vault ceiling was constructed, as its soft curves echo the vaulted ceilings of old world libraries. Dramatic, renaissance light fixtures create an elegant space for evening events.||The wall of windows bathes the library in natural light while it dramatizes the exterior appearance. The lounge seating offers space for relaxing and studing while enjoying the view.|