Further Library refurbishment 2016-2019 approved

Architect's impression of Library building and landscaping

Architect’s impression showing the refurbished Library west front with enlarged café, new cladding and landscaping

A £40 million redevelopment and refurbishment of The University Library starting this June, has been approved by the University Council. This second phase of the complete modernisation and revamp of the Library will increase space for individual and group study, and will make better use of the space currently available on the Ground and 1st Floors. Work is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2019.

Significant improvements

Specific key areas of improvement will include 200 more study places and increased toilet capacity with toilets available on all floors, including disabled and gender neutral provision. Café space will be expanded, including opening glazed doors onto external al fresco areas. New lifts will be installed, and an improved system for borrowing and returning books will be put into place.

The redevelopment will provide better access and security as well as improving its energy efficiency, through improved insulation and ventilation. The exterior of the building will be totally re-clad and will have replacement windows fitted throughout, providing a striking focal point at the heart of the Whiteknights campus.

University investment rates Library highly

The University Council approved the £25 million building costs, with an additional £15 million costs of keeping the Library fully operational, contingency funding, VAT and project management. This comes after the first £4.4m phase revamped the study spaces and furniture on the 2nd to 5th Floors in 2013 and 2014. Planning permission was granted by Reading Borough Council last December.

Our Vice-Chancellor’s view

“The Library has always played a central role in our life and work, with its location at the very heart of the University’s Whiteknights campus,” says Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell. “We have invested £4.4m in the top four floors of the Library as a first phase of redevelopment and this major new investment of £40m will complete the project. We will combine traditional and crucial functions such as book and journal collections with group study facilities, great digital access and multi-purpose spaces. Our Library has never been a static, sepulchral space. It has continued to evolve over its 50 year history and as these excellent new facilities become available to students and staff.”

Keep calm, we’ll carry on!

The Library will remain fully operational to students across the entirety of the redevelopment. No building work will take place at all during exams. To minimise disruption for Library users, books held on floors being refurbished will be relocated elsewhere in the Library. Print journals will move off site, but as the majority of Library users access journal content online via the Library website, this should cause minimal inconvenience.

In addition, the University will provide alternative study space across the centre of the campus during exam and periods of high-demand – with details being confirmed in due course.

Further information

The Library Refurbishment 2016-2019 webpage gives further information, including a proposed work schedule, frequently asked questions and links to the latest refurbishment news on the University Library News blog (where day-to-day advice will be given to Library users).

A wider Campus Projects website is also in development, in which the Library redevelopment will be featured. Many other communication channels will also be used to help provide as much information as possible across the development of the project.

Rachel Redrup, Library Marketing Co-ordinator

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