Access to collections during closure of 5th floor of Bennett Library

Background: Closure of the 5th floor of Bennett Library 

May 2023 update:

The 5th floor of WAC Bennett Library has been closed since November 2022 when asbestos-containing debris was found in the area. Testing revealed that the debris is coming from ceiling tiles with failing texture coat. After investigating several possible options to deal with the ceiling material, the university has decided the best course of action is to proceed with a total abatement project (i.e. removal) of the asbestos-containing ceiling tiles.

The project is expected to take 6-8 months to complete, plus another 2-3 months of planning during tendering and contracting. We are therefore planning for closure of the 5th floor for approximately one year. 

 For more information, see our 5th floor closure page.  

Affected collections: Books HV to QA 

The floor houses more than 400,000 books in call number ranges HV to QA, 25 staff offices, several heavily used bookable graduate study rooms, and bookable rooms and adaptive technology for students registered with the Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL). Staff who normally work on this floor have been relocated. Equipment has been moved to other floors where possible. 

After the work is completed, the books will be returned to the 5th floor. 

Providing temporary access to collections during the closure 

Access to the collections from this area is a top priority for the library. We recognize the importance of access to collections for research, scholarship, course planning, student assignments, and other purposes. We are proceeding with a multi-pronged approach to providing access, as follows: 

  • May 2023 update -- We have  moved high-demand items to the 6th floor. They are now available on open shelving and available for requesting.
  • Also underway:  
    • Wherever possible, we are adding links to electronic versions of titles in our 5th floor collections (primarily older, public domain material) 
    • We are providing interlibrary loan access to inaccessible titles 
    • We are purchasing e-book versions of requested titles from the 5th floor to add to the collection 
    • We are purchasing additional copies of print for requested titles that are unavailable as e-books, or unsuitable for use in e-book form. 
  • Now completed:
    • April 2023: borrowers were able to request 5th floor items 
    • May 2023: staff retrieved requested items and they were sent to pick-up points to be borrowed.

Questions and answers

Which books are affected by this closure?

5th floor books in the HV to QA call number range 

This range includes criminology, political science, law, education, music, fine arts, language and literature, mathematics, and some science materials.

Note that some materials with these call numbers are in other locations, such as the Fraser or Belzberg libraries, the oversized books area, or the Curriculum Collection. Check the Library Catalogue's location details to confirm.  

For more specific subclassifications of Library of Congress Call numbers, see the Library of Congress Classification Outline

What books were moved to the 6th floor and what was the process? 

Creating space; selecting and moving high-demand titles

We have created space on the 6th floor to shelve a limited number of books from the 5th floor, in order to make them available in open shelving during the closure. This included the following: 

  • All items that have been borrowed in the past 10 years 
  • All new items acquired in the past 2 years; will include up to 5 years, space permitting 
  • All items that have been on course reserve in the past 2 years 
  • All items returned during the closure 
  • All new items acquired during the closure in the affected call number range (HV – QA).

How and when can I borrow books from the 5th floor? 

Can staff retrieve a book for me while the floor is closed?

Library employees are not able to access the floor for health and safety reasons. ​​Only certified contractors or personnel who have had safety training are able to enter the floor.

During the abatement project, remaining collections on the 5th floor will be inaccessible, and not available to request in the library catalogue.

The details of exactly how the project will be conducted are not yet available, but at this time it seems likely that books will be removed from the stacks and stored in boxes while the repairs are done. Staff will not have access to these boxes.​

What about new and returned books that would usually go to the 5th floor?

New and returned books will be shelved on the 6th floor.

Where can I get more information?

For further questions, contact