York to the Power of 50: A new oasis for study in the Scott Library

York University students now have a quiet, new study space in the Scott Library. The recently renovated third floor was officially re-opened to the public on Oct. 10. A portion of the space was renamed the “W.P. Scott Study Room” in memory of William Pearson Scott, a founding member of York University’s Board of Governors. The dedication ceremony was attended by several members of the Scott family.

At the opening, University Librarian Cynthia Archer expressed her delight with the transformation. “Your support has helped in more than one way,” she told the Scott family. ”You’ve made possible the creation of crucial scholarly study space, and you’ve enabled us to build a showpiece to help others see the impact they could make with a gift in support of the Scott Library.” She gestured to the room filled with hard-working students. “It’s full all the time.”

Above: From left, University Librarian Cynthia Archer, Michael Scott (son of W. P. Scott), Barbara Marshall Houlding (daughter of W. P. Scott) and York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri in the refurbished and renamed W.P. Scott Study Room

The Scott Library is one of the busiest academic libraries in Canada, with 16,000 visits each day. Before the renovation, much of the space on the third floor was used for shelving catalogued books, leaving allowance for just a few cramped, outdated study spaces. To free up room, the shelves were replaced with more efficient rolling racks that accommodate a vastly larger number of books. Students now sit at long, impressive tables upon which elegant study lamps perch and the hard floor tiles have been replaced with noise-reducing carpet. Where once students needed to search for the odd vacuum-cleaner outlet to plug in their laptops, most seating positions now come equipped with their own power source and high-speed Internet access. There are 230 new spaces; 184 of them are wired.

“Though we saw this space when we were here last year, I don’t recognize it,” said Michael Scott, son of W. P. Scott. “It gives me and my sister immense satisfaction that we have done something that has been of great assistance to you all,” he said, adding, “We’re very proud of our long-standing relationship with York and look forward with you to the future.”

Faculty of Science & Engineering student Christopher Leal said that after the passing of his father, he found it difficult to study at home and the Scott Library became like a second home. “It provided solitude, a place to gather my thoughts and a place to focus on my primary goal – obtaining a university degree,” he said.

Left: Barbara Marshall Houlding (left), Michael Scott and University Archivist & Head, Archives & Special Collections, Michael Moir in front of a display of artifacts associated with W. P. Scott

York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri thanked the Scott family and the W. P. Scott Charitable Foundation. “Nothing is more important to a university than its library. Just as your father was instrumental in the foundation and construction of the University, it is important to note that you continue that tradition today.”

W.P. Scott was the Chair of the Board of Governors from 1966 to 1971 and was instrumental in raising the original private funding for York University. The Scott Library is named in his honour, as is the Scott Religious Centre.

Paul Marcus, president & CEO of the York University Foundation, described the Scott family as one of York’s “first families”, and thanked them for their continued support of the University. “York is very fortunate to have had the friendship of the Scott family for almost 50 years,” he said. He also noted that libraries and transforming students’ lives are among the “York to the Power of 50” campaign priorities. 

Archer intends to create even more scholarly study space in the Scott Library and hopes that this renovation will set the standard for further renovations she would like to see happen on the fourth and fifth floors of the library.