By Blessing Famose, Abimbola Adelakun, Ukey Elizabeth, Patricia Odedele and Esther Eiyegbeni.
In a recent interview with Unilag Sun editors, the team lead of Eureka Consults, Mr Shemo Akpene, an architect and an alumnus of the University of Lagos unveiled the transformative journey of the university’s library aimed at encouraging a reading culture among the students.
Sponsored by Alpha Morgan Capital, the renovation of the library was the actualization of the visionary dream of the former Vice Chancellor, Professor Toyin Ogundipe, and the University Librarian, Professor Yetunde Zaid.
“The librarian has this belief in us to transform her dreams to reality,” he stated, while explaining Eureka Consult’s involvement in the construction process in collaboration with James Boar Limited (JBL), the contractors of the project.
Arc. Akpene explained that the project entailed ‘remodeling and renovating the entire first floor and the door.’ While explaining the renovation process, he laid emphasis on the librarian’s passion for inclusivity for all students being the driving force behind the motion sensor doors to give the visually impaired students easy access into the library.
He mentioned the youthful vibrancy being the need for the use of warm and welcoming colors to create and imbibe a culture of using the library among students. He stated that even with the need for a remodeling of the library space, “you don’t want to lose history,” hence the reason behind the wooden tiles and the maintenance of the old timber walls.
According to him, “the creation of The Makerspace is to allow a little pocket of interaction” to give an ambience different from the deadly silence that accompanies every library. The space is to foster the practical reality of what has been taught in classes. He mentioned that the space, though free for students, has modalities in place. These modalities include scanning a QR code to book the space before use, this is to prevent abuse of space and “to control traffic.”
On how the renovation has led to a reduced reading space for students, Mr Akpene clarified that rather than lose reading spaces, the renovation gave room for additional spaces. He explained this using the strategic placement of furniture in the library.
The architect who claimed to have lost sleep for many nights expressed joy at the rate which students have accepted the library renovation, he said “The greatest currency that I’ve received on this project is when I see the smile on the faces of the students when they walk in, admiring what we’ve done, taking pictures and just really loving the space. It’s very fulfilling. It tells us that all the sleepless nights have been worth it because If the end user doesn’t enjoy the space then I have failed as a designer and as someone who has brought it to life.”