Harriet Irving Library Research Commons | UNB
University of New Brunswick est.1785

Global Site Navigation (use tab and down arrow)

Fall 2021

Transforming spaces

Transforming Learning and Research


research commons

Harriet Irving Library Research Commons and Rose Garden Open

Building on a longstanding reputation in leading research, entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of New Brunswick, the Harriet Irving Library Research Commons and Rose Garden are now officially open. 

With a $6.4-million gift from The Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation, these newly constructed spaces create interdisciplinary and multifunctional learning and gathering spaces on campus. 

While the Research Commons opened quietly to students on the Fredericton campus in December 2020, the full impact of this major transformation within the Harriet Irving Library wasn’t felt until the return of on-campus learning this fall. Spanning the entire third floor of the library, the Research Commons is designed to transform traditional research practices for the digital age with specialized library research services, including data visualization and digital scholarship, fabrication, computer-enhanced presentations and advanced technologies to support the research life cycle. 

“These spaces reflect a shared commitment to transformative education,” says Sandra Irving (BA’95, DLitt’09). “It is our hope that they inspire students, foster innovative thinking and importantly help students in realizing their dreams during their time at UNB.” 

On Nov. 29, UNB held a virtual event to celebrate the official opening of the Harriet Irving Research Commons and Rose Garden.  

Inspiring innovation, research and entrepreneurship across all faculties, these unique spaces provide a modern, interdisciplinary, research-driven learning environment further enriching library research services across UNB campuses. 

“The space was designed to encourage and inspire collaboration around problem-solving that is interdisciplinary," says architect Jay Verspyck.

Lesley Balcom, dean of libraries, describes the Research Commons as the realization of the UNB Libraries’ vision of being “the nexus to inspire and elevate innovation and research across all faculties at UNB in an exciting and collaborative environment.”

“We are very appreciative that the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation has enabled us to realize this major project, which is already having a significant impact on student learning. Students love the Research Commons.”

Alicia Noreiga-Mundaroy (BEd’11, MEd’16), a PhD student in education and president of the Graduate Students Association, envisions the endless possibilities that the Research Commons will create. “As a student, I can confidently express how impressed and grateful we are to have such a wonderful space where innovative minds can collaborate, have access to cutting-edge resources, and take their research and other projects beyond what they could have only previously imagined.”

Honouring the life of Harriet Lila Irving, for whom the library was originally named, the Rose Garden is designed as a place to gather with friends, to rest and reflect, a respite from the pressures of daily activity for students, faculty and staff.

“The design of the garden compliments the quality of the original architecture and materiality of the library, using brick and granite to create a formal framework for students to enjoy the natural landscape,” says architect Matthew Brown of Brackish Design Studio. 

At a time when the mental health of post-secondary students is a major concern across the country, this peaceful and attractive place will be of tremendous value to the university community.

“First and foremost, these gifts are for the students,” says Arthur Irving (DLitt’09). “My mother loved helping young people. She loved her family and she loved the flowers in her garden."

"She would be so happy today to have the Research Commons and rose garden named in her honour at the library which proudly bears her name.” 

In thanking the Arthur L. Irving family during the Research Commons official opening, UNB President Paul Mazerolle reinforced the importance of the new facility. “The family’s support for our students’ experience, education and research capacity is unparalleled. We are very grateful for the competitive advantage this exceptional, one-of-a-kind Research Commons will give UNB, benefiting the community and the province.”

Anchored by the Harriet Irving Library Research Commons, UNB Libraries is an important driver in UNB’s vision of creating the New Brunswick of tomorrow. UNB’s university-wide library system is committed to furthering innovation, scholarship, and research across both campuses.


A Tribute to Harriet Lila Irving 

The cornerstone for the Harriet Irving Library was laid in 1966 and the library has stood tall on University Hill for decades, a tribute and honour to the life of Harriet Lila Irving. In 2019, a gift from the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation transformed the third floor to create the Harriet Irving Library Research Commons with the understanding that the research component of student engagement at UNB is always an important stepping stone in securing knowledge, finding answers, and helping others. Like the new beautiful rose garden outside the library, dedicated to Mrs. Irving and her love of flowers, we also dedicate this new space to her kind, unwavering support for young people.

Watch the virtual celebration of the official opening.