History of Capilano University Library

In the early days of Capilano College, classes were offered in many locations, including church basements and high schools. The Library began in a room in West Vancouver Secondary School. By 1974, the College’s Business Management program had established its own library at the Christian Education Centre at Highlands Church, and the Art department had organized another library in a building on Welch Street in North Vancouver.   

In 1974, the main Library was established at the east end of the B building, the second building constructed on the North Vancouver campus. Initially called the Media Centre, the name was changed in 1989 to “the Library.” This early Library included books, periodicals, a circulation desk, audio-visual materials and equipment, and study tables. The Library was located next to the cafeteria and the two areas were very much at the centre of campus.   

By the late 1970s, the Library had outgrown its location in the B building. It was divided into several components with periodicals being moved to the M building on the northern half of the campus. The Library in the M building was a large room with tables, a lounge area for students, periodicals, and a room for viewing microfiche articles. As the periodical indexes were in the south campus Library but the periodicals were housed on the north campus site, students would have to utilize the south campus indexes and then go to the north campus Library to pick up the periodical. A few years later, the periodical indexes moved north to be reunited with the periodical collection. 

In 1978 the card catalogue was converted to microfiche through the BCUC (British Columbia Union Catalogue) project. This was done by searching each of the Library’s titles in UTLAS (University of Toronto Library Automated Systems) and matching and adding holdings or adding new records for unique titles. The catalogue was accessed through the 12 microfiche readers in the Library and cataloguing continued to be done through UTLAS.  

In the fall of 1982, all Library departments and resources were reunited in the newly enlarged B building. In 1983, a basic circulation system was developed to replace the book cards. This system used barcodes but was not linked to the catalogue records. Employees had to input the call number, the patron’s name, and his/her student number for all items circulated. In 1984, the system was expanded to include audio-visual materials. There were two computer terminals at the circulation counter and one in the audio-visual area. 

The Library changed configurations repeatedly in B building. At one point, the main corridor for the campus went through the Library, with circulation, audio-visual, and all the Library employees on one side and the collection on the other. This resulted in limited circulation control as the circulation desk was across the hall from where students left the Library. To protect the collection, a desk was set up in the hall so that an employee could ask students if they had signed books out. In the mid 1980s, an inventory of the collection revealed that one-third of the collection had disappeared. A CheckPoint security system was installed shortly thereafter.   

In the early 1990s, planning began for a new library building. There was considerable controversy about where the new Library should be located, with a strong lobby against disturbing the existing forest or gardens. As provincial funding required that B building not be torn down, it was incorporated into the new structure. Hence, the construction happened around the existing Library with considerable noise, dust, and disruption to library users and employees, but limited damage to the trees and gardens. 

The three-storey Capilano University Library Building, designed by Henriquez & Partners, opened in 1993 (now called Capilano University Library). The renovated 12,000 square-foot building houses the Library classroom, Library offices, audio-visual services, technical services, and the Teaching and Learning Centre. The first and second floors of the new building contain study spaces, the main Library collection, reference and circulation services, and the Computer Learning Centre lab. Capacity for growth includes an additional 18,000 square feet on the third floor, which is currently not part of the Library itself but is used for meeting rooms and classrooms.

Library Building history

The Capilano College Library Building (called the Capilano University Library since September 2008), opened in 1993 and represented the completion of Phase II of Capilano College's building program. The project consisted of a three-storey structure, which integrated the former single-storey library building. The renovated 12,000 square foot former library now houses the Circulation Department offices, Audio-Visual Services, Librarians' offices, Technical Services, the Library classroom, and the University Archives, as well as other University departments such as Continuing Education, Marketing and Communications, and the Education Technology Centre. The first and second floors of the new building contain study spaces, the main library collection, Reference and Circulation Services, and the Computer Learning Centre Lab. Capacity for growth includes an additional 18,000 square feet on the third floor of the new building which is currently not part of the Library itself but is used for meeting rooms and classrooms.

The architectural designers, Henriquez and Partners, have maintained a West Coast ambience throughout the Library's interior. Wainscotting and millwork are crafted from maple. A sunken reading area in the northeast corner of the main floor features comfortable couches and a three-storey skylight. Cross-cut sections of trees that formerly grew on the site are highlighted at specific points on the first floor ceiling. A stylized boat keel and light reflectors underline strong connections to the ocean. Uniquely-shaped study stations on both the first and second floors have been installed along windowed walls, overlooking the forested areas of the campus.

For more information about the construction and architectural features of the building, refer to this publication which is available in the Library (Call number: NA740 .O5 no.1 (1999).

Architectural Detail Summary (at inauguration 1993)

  • Official Opening: 21 October 1993
  • Construction began: 1992
  • Architect: Henriquez and Partners
  • General Contractor: Smith Brothers & Wilson
  • Director of Planning: Alan Smith
  • College Librarian: Frieda Wiebe
  • Project Value: $10.9 million (1993 dollars)
  • Square Footage: 40,000

Educational Features Summary (at inauguration 1993)

  • Integrated online library system (Innovative Interfaces) including an online public access catalogue, circulation and reserves, acquisitions, serials control, and materials booking modules
  • 350 study carrels
  • 3 group study rooms
  • a 36-seat classroom for library research instruction
  • 23 computer workstations with access to the library catalogue, periodical databases, and resources and links on the Library's home page
  • AV listening and viewing stations
  • Instructional media production facilities for instructors and students
  • Map and atlas room
  • Audiovisual collection of videos, films, CDs and LP records
  • Shelving for 200,000 volumes
  • 3 photocopy rooms
  • A student computer lab with 20 workstations