Roxanne Missingham and Tim Grace

Exploring learning spaces at ANU: Chifley Library 

The Learning Environments Team within the Centre for Learning and Teaching caught up with two key players in the transformation of learning spaces in the Chifley Library. Roxanne Missingham, our University Librarian and Chief Scholarly Information Officer, and Tom Foley, Senior Manager, Client and Scholarly Information Services – provided a generous tour of the library and its multi-purpose facilities.

Over the course of recent years, the view and use of libraries have evolved to meet rapidly changing contexts, but amongst their many contemporary services they remain a vital Learning Space open to all. From whatever position – student or otherwise – a visit to the Chifley Library offers access to a trove of information relating mostly to the ANU Colleges of Arts and Social Sciences and Business and Economics


While the Chifley Library is also a valuable resource for the broader ANU community as well as visiting scholars and researchers interested in the social sciences and humanities, it also serves as a welcome 24-hour refuge for students wanting to “zone in” and focus on important aspects of their academic studies day or night.

Library spaces have a familiar ambience with recognisable features constructing a purposeful sense of place. Putting that general feeling aside, we had many questions regarding the Chifley Library’s rejuvenation following the flood in 2018. The unwelcome inundation was a trigger for change and as is often the case the basis for forming fresh perspectives – seeing and doing things differently. In that context, Tim began the ‘library tour’ by talking to Roxanne Missingham, who was able to situate the library and its information services. 


When thinking about remodelling library spaces, Roxanne found it interesting to observe different student behaviours that arise from where they are in their studies. Student agency develops over time and accordingly use of the study spaces matures and becomes more deliberate. Adding to observation, formal student and staff feedback is extremely important; informing library staff of usage patterns they can accommodate into future planning. While the Library is an impressive physical learning space (bearing an enviable heritage), it became obvious to Tim that it’s also a safe and secure study space that students value as unique to their overall experience at ANU.

Apart from seeing a library as a Learning Space, it can also be seen as a Teaching Space. Liane spoke to Tom Foley, Senior Manager of Client Services for ANU Libraries to find out more about the ANU Libraries as both Learning and Teaching spaces.  


Some innovative ideas are finding their own ‘space’ in the Library. For instance, the One Button Studio supports content creation, which in turn enhances teaching with asynchronous content. There’s also ‘The Deck’ (aka, the Digital Engagement and Creativity Hub), which is a self-service space designed to encourage collaboration and innovation; providing students and academics access to high-end technology they can use in new and innovative ways.

Following through his interest in the One Button Studio, Tim met up with Terra Starbird, who at the time was a Digital Literacy Trainer at the ANU library – they spoke about ‘digital disruption’ and how the library adapts to changing needs.  


The fact that Chifley is a Heritage listed building makes it a little trickier to rearrange the bricks and mortar; more often, a refit is optimal under the circumstances. That was certainly the case after the flood of 2018. What was originally a ‘bookish basement’ was reconceptualised to offer students a contemporary study space just minutes from the Kambri precinct and its range of student facilities. 

Explore some OTHER chapters in this series below:

July 2021

Liane Joubert is a Learning Environment Officer and Tim Grace is the Manager of the Education Communities and Environments (ECE) team – one of the three teams within theANU Centre for Learning & Teaching (CLT).