January 24, 2011
The Newman Theological College Library has 75,000 volumes stacked on two levels

WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER

The Newman Theological College Library has 75,000 volumes stacked on two levels

CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

The initial plan two years ago was for Newman Theological College to vacate its old campus near St. Albert and move directly to its new location, beside the Catholic Pastoral Centre.

Circumstances as they were, a temporary college had to be set up in Sherwood Park, at the old Lakeland College site, until the new building was ready. Upon completion of the new campus, the college was uprooted again. For the college library, this meant moving about 75,000 books - twice.

Rick Mooney, the external consultant who coordinated the move, said Western Moving was hired both times to pack and unpack books.

Adding to the difficulty of moving into the present location was that construction still went on around them. Books were set up on their appropriate shelves and then later the flooring was installed in the library.

Books had to be covered in plastic during that process. They tidied the two-level library, while working alongside electricians, plumbers and other tradesmen.

"This library is unique," said Mooney. "It is part of the Alberta post-secondary library system. It is an incredible resource to have, and it certainly supports the work of Newman College. Without a library, you couldn't possibly have a college of this calibre. It gives the college credibility."

As mandated by the archbishop, Mooney's team salvaged whatever it could from the old college, finding new purpose for older items.

"We were constantly trying to not throw anything away if we could reuse it," said Mooney.

Rick Mooney

Rick Mooney

Stained glass windows, religious art, statues and furniture from the old college were kept for the new one. Some items were recycled to other institutions. Furniture and useable kitchen items went to the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Living Waters College, near Derwent. The Mustard Seed Church took its handicapped lift.

MODERN LOOK

Despite tables and chairs from the previous library, the new library - and the rest of the college campus for that matter - has a distinctly modern look.

"It's an incredible building to house a college in, and it will be attractive to the students," said Mooney. "One of the nicest things will be the central location of this facility. It certainly has access to the U of A, so the students can come here and it's central to all the parts of Edmonton."

Even with modern technology and the Internet a common resource for today's research, libraries full of print material are not obsolete. On the contrary, Mooney is convinced that libraries are still necessary.

ELECTRONIC PRESENCE

"Personally, I think libraries still have a great function, just in a different format. We still have books, but this library also has an electronic presence that is needed to be a part of the 21st century," said Mooney.

"There's no question that was one of the great things about being able to build a library from scratch - you have the print resources, but you also can adapt them to be used in the digital world that we have entered into."

Two Catholic Women's League members coordinate teams of volunteers for the library.

"There will be a full-time librarian (the Rev. Jim Derksen), but our ladies have been asked if they will also help in the library, helping put books back. We're already committed to doing that," said June Fuller, CWL Edmonton diocesan president.