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The Cawse Library story at St Andrew’s College

| April 11, 2018 | 0 Comments


Library renovations formed part of the #AcademicExcellence project, Phase 2 at St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape.

We wanted to create a “library of the future”. We opened 2017 with an exciting site handover of The Cawse Library, a state-of-the-art, 21st century building. Our ultimate goal is that the library speaks to the changing needs of our “digital natives” and we are proud to have achieved that goal.

Educator Harold Howe stated: “What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it feels about education.”1 This is true in our case. We soon realised that none of the above could be achieved without the full support of the school management, staff and its customer base – the boys.

Whilst the boys are important stakeholders, they need guidance, encouragement, a nurturing environment and an invitation to engage – and, above all, they need to see themselves contributing to knowledge creation, thus contributing to the global research arena.

A smart team and a smooth process

My philosophy from the start was simple: put together a team of smart people, and they will make you look smart! Our team comprised a few members of academic staff, some school management members and other relevant stakeholders. Plans were drawn up and approved by the college council. The plans promised flexible and collaborative hardworking spaces. After the plans were approved, the building was handed over to the building contractors, in February 2017. The project was very successful. There was much excitement among the boys, who were engaged throughout the building process.

The year 2017 marked an historical period in the St Andrew’s College library, when the doors were temporarily closed while it was being renovated. The temporary library, housed in the old Jooste dining hall, was in full operation during this period. The year went by quickly, marked by with many celebratory events, such as the series of site meetings that took place. The plans were improved up to the date of completion. The grand opening of The Cawse Library: Centre for Reading, Learning, and Innovation took place on 17 November 2017. The ceremony attracted attendance from important stakeholders including the Cawse family, after whom the library is named. A celebratory staff tea was held in the David Hodgson Exhibition Foyer on 22 November. Staff were then invited to take self-guided tours of the amazing space.

New spaces relished by both staff and students

The new library continues to strive for excellence in the following areas: connecting boys to knowledge, encouraging collaboration, building collections that speak to the changing needs of our boys, making information resources accessible “anywhere, anytime”, encouraging and promoting reading, and also promoting the culture of leadership among the boys.

Because of the new library, the Library Monitors team showed a healthy growth in 2017, going from seven boys to 12. Courtney McKay, a Grade 9 learner at the time, added value to the design of the new bookshelves and choosing furniture for the new library.

The library features three seminar rooms, relaxed reading areas equipped with comfortable beanbags, a café bar area with a brand new coffee machine, a Digital Media/Makerspace2 with green screens and a 3D printer, and computer workstations to enhance and support research. The library also features both collaborative and individual study spaces. Another favourite feature is the covered veranda, overlooking Upper sports field.

As the college librarian, I would like to thank the library committee – the brains behind the beautiful building – and all the teams on campus who contributed to the success of this space.

Books are still big

We have learnt, with pleasure, that books aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Shelving is the heart of any library, therefore it should be done well. Hybrid libraries are still trending today, and we are proud to be part of this great network. Our choice of mobile shelving speaks to the flexibility and collaborative spaces, and the collections have never been more visible to the users. Our boys have a choice of reading “Anywhere, anytime”. Our new library has a growing Overdrive digital library3 packed with best-selling and classic e-books, accessible 24/7 from the library’s digital collection. It is simply a matter of choice and preference.


1. Harold Howe was a former high school principal who served ascommissioner of education during the administration of Lyndon Johnson in the US. (Source: )

2. See:

3. See:

Category: Autumn 2018

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