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Vision, Mission, and History

Library Vision & Mission

The Library will be a place of engagement, learning, creation, and belonging. Through ongoing dialogue with our diverse university community, we strive to contribute meaningfully to diverse literacies, responsible critical inquiry, and equitable access to knowledge, both at the University of Winnipeg and beyond.

Our mission is to sustainably develop a body of knowledge and cultural resources that benefit our campus and community. The Library is a front-line service that helps students, faculty, and public researchers access and use these resources, as well as a safe, intuitive, and inspiring space to engage in scholarly pursuits.


The Library’s story is as old as the University itself, dating back more than 100 years to the days of Wesley and Manitoba College. Wesley College created a space for a Library in 1896, and throughout the next half-century the Library would occupy Sparling, Bryce, and Ashdown Halls for various periods of time as the schools consolidated.

When United College became the University of Winnipeg in 1967, the Library was again in need of space to accommodate students and grow collections. Centennial Hall — a megastructure designed to unite six disparate buildings in the heart of campus — was constructed in 1972 and included a new home for the UWinnipeg Library.  At the time, the Centennial Hall facility was widely recognized for its open, progressive design elements, and lovingly referred to as the “Library in the Sky.”

Over the next few decades, the student population steadily increased and the Library collection doubled in size. By 1986, the Chief Librarian reported that the facility’s original capacity — designed to accommodate ten years of growth — had been exceeded. This triggered a long trend of makeshift space projects, though a comprehensive solution was already overdue. Shelving aisles were extended and narrowed, walls were constructed, and a gradual “boxing in” of Library spaces began to reshape the airy, sun-soaked Library into a winding, inaccessible maze. 

Despite these challenges, the Library remains a central hub for campus activity. Visits to the Library have continued to outpace student growth, and the Library now administers a portfolio that includes the Archives, Art Gallery, Copyright Office, Institutional Repository, and Anthropology Museum, as well as an expanding suite of research services tied to faculty and graduate student support.

While it has evolved to become more than a building of books, the Library lives within an aging infrastructure very much in need of repair. The path toward renewal began in 2015 when UWinnipeg President Annette Trimbee called upon the UW community to “ensure that our library, as the heart and soul of our academy, continues to be a hub for research, collaboration, and learning.” The campus community echoed this intention in a number of consultations that followed, and in December 2017, a team was formed to create a pathway to a redeveloped Library. Prioritizing sustainability, accessibility, and a future-proofed infrastructure, the Library renewal project is rooted in an Indigenous design mandate that will bring a tangible Indigenous landmark to campus, expand the Library’s ability to innovate, and ensure that Centennial Hall can continue to serve the UWinnipeg community for another half-century.

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