Funding of €15 million has been approved for the transformation of the library at NUI Galway into a state-of-the-art interactive learning facility, which will be the first of its kind in the Irish university sector.
The investment was welcomed by local Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton, who said the new ‘learning commons’ facility at NUI Galway would be a major asset for the region.
She stated that a total of €15 million has been allocated under the Higher Education Strategic Infrastructure Fund for the transformation of the James Hardiman Library into a facility with new modes of interactive and highly engaged learning.
“This is a very exciting and ambitious project, which will place NUI Galway at the apex of the Irish university sector in terms of its library services,” said Deputy Naughton.
“I’m proud to have supported efforts to secure funding to make it a reality this year, and I am very pleased that the minister of state with responsibility for higher education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, also saw its merit and potential.”
A learning commons is a technology-rich environment in which students can collaborate, communicate and learn and an interactive and highly engaged way. The model has been described as the “library of the future”, and is quickly gaining popularity.
“NUI Galway will be at the forefront of this development, and the new facility will be a valuable asset for students, teachers, stakeholders and the broader community throughout the region,” said Deputy Naughton.
The Galway West TD has been involved in the university’s application for funding to the Higher Education Authority (HEA ) in relation to the project since earlier this year.
Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor visited the library at NUI Galway in May, when she inspected the existing facilities and discussed the proposals for the new development.
Deputy Naughton was informed earlier this week that the bid had been successful, and that €15 million would be provided for the completion of the project.
Welcoming the announcement, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway said: “I am delighted to welcome this very substantial support for NUI Galway’s library redevelopment which is a strong endorsement for teaching and learning at this University. This development will have a distinctively transformative impact on the learning experience of our students at NUI Galway.
“Renewing higher education for the needs of our time and our place demands new types of space that allow deeper forms of engagement and new forms of connection between teaching, learning, research, and scholarship.
“This investment provides an opportunity to reconceive the library as an inclusive, accessible centre for active learning, a place of shared curiosity and for the co-development of knowledge and understanding in the world and for the world. I would like to thank the Department and the HEA for acknowledging our vision for HE in Ireland and in particular here in the west.
“This is great news for NUI Galway, as well as for our broader University community. Today’s announcement is a clear signal of our ambition for a new chapter in our University’s proud history,” he concluded.
John Cox, University Librarian, said that the transformed Library will be an inspirational, welcoming, space for learning and creativity, facilitating collaborative discovery and interdisciplinary engagement, with access to the world’s knowledge via a comprehensive digital library.