The Dalai Lama Center visits the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre

Earlier this month, the DLC visited the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, a facility dedicated to the intellectual, social, cultural, and economic development of people in British Columbia. The centre, located in the heart of the University of British Columbia campus, was the inspiration of Irving K. Barber, himself a UBC graduate in 1950.

Barber, who funded the building with a $20 million donation, hoped tor a "centre with no walls". The "barrier-free" feeling is evident by the numerous entry points at all corners of the building, none of which have restricted access.

In 2002, when referring to the reasons behind his generous donation, he said, "the ability to lift the education and information level of people is the first step in the solution to many of our problems around the globe." The centre boasts a vast learning space with the ability to plug-in virtually anywhere in the building and also lays claim to Canada's first library with a robotic book retrieval system that allows students access to rare books in just a few minutes.

As he guided the DLC staff through the centre, Barber was proud to point out the building's centrepiece, the Recognition Wall. The wall, which is a series of glass panels that span three floors, represents the values, goals and spirit of the centre's past, present and future. The Dalai Lama adorns one of these glass panels (above left), and the Recognition Wall is not the only connection between His Holiness and the Irving K. Barber Centre. The centre was a generous sponsor of the Educating the Heart dialogue at the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit at which His Holiness participated.

DLC founding director Victor Chan, who one day hopes to have a physical centre bearing the Dalai Lama's name, had this to say about the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre: "Under one roof, people come together and connect with each other with ideas on a kind of basis that is not premeditated. There is a lot of serendipity involved....It's a one of a kind facility that the people at UBC are tremendously lucky to have."

You can take a virtual tour of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and learn more about its extensive art display on the centre's web site.

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