Screen-free modern library opens at Calgary independent school

For weeks, excited oohs and ahhs have echoed through these hallways as kids peeked through taped up windows to glimpse the progress of their new library's construction.

You'll find reading nooks, cozy lounge chairs, study tables and vaulted ceilings — but no computers

The new library at the private school Lycée Louis Pasteur was designed to be an engaging, computer-free space for students ages 3 through 18. (Dave Will/CBC)

For weeks, excited oohs and ahhs have echoed through these hallways as kids peeked through taped up windows to glimpse the progress of their new library's construction.

Now, after months of thoughtful planning and design, one of Calgary's oldest independent schools has unveiled the carefully designed gathering space.

The new library at Lycée Louis Pasteur is all rounded curves, with a vaulted ceiling, carpeted floors and walls painted in calming grey tones with vibrant pops of purple and pink.

The goal was to paint the space with 'colours that made it look elegant and sophisticated as well as fun and playful,' says Meagan Gray, designer, parent and alumna. (Mark Bajramovic)

The architectural design elements, which were all decided by parents at the school, even incorporate the Fibonacci sequence.

"If you think about the shape of a shell or a conch, or the number of branches on a tree, this all happens in the Fibonacci sequence. So essentially, standing in this library should be a lot similar feeling to standing in nature," said Mark Bajramovic, of Deanmark Developments.

"The idea is that if they want to spend time here, then it naturally promotes literacy and learning, because that's the environment," he said.

Meagan Gray, a parent, volunteer and alumna of the school, says the book-filled space has become a source of joy and wonder for students.

"They come in, and it's actually not so much with words, but it's like shouts of glee. Like, you can hear their squealing. There's laughing," Gray said.

'All the kids have been so excited about the new library, and just lots of talk about it. You can just see the pure joy on their face, which is wonderful,' says Gray. (Dave Will/CBC)

All paper and no screens

The library is outfitted with cozy lounge spaces, reading nooks, risers for presentations and tables for study groups. But there's not a single digital screen to be found.

"No computers," affirms Frederic Canadas, head of school.

Canadas says the school uses plenty of digital technology in its classrooms, with iPads and laptops available to students. 

"I mean we're big advocates for raising kids that are responsible technology users and ethical users," he said.

But the library, he says, is meant to be a place to unplug — to pick up a book, write a paper by hand or review handwritten notes.

He says the only screens that might be added would be a large projector for presentations and digital stations to search the library catalogue.

Students gather on risers in a mini 'amphitheatre.' (Dave Will/CBC)

"With all the electronics and iPads and phones, it's a lot easier for kids to just use media," Gray said. "But the importance of books is still huge and growing, and fostering a love for books is really important."

The library was built with money earmarked from the school's annual fundraising gala, she said.

It's situated in the centre of the main floor, at the very heart of the school's building.

She hopes that it will also become the social heart of the school, an inviting and collaborative space for students ages 3 to 18, as well as teachers, staff and administrators.

This front space of the library is meant to appeal to the school's younger students. The bilingual school Lycee Louis Pasteur teaches preschool to Grade 12. (Dave Will/CBC)

With files from Dave Will