The Library Redevelopment project has seen its budget slashed from the initially proposed £47 million to £14 million, resulting in scrapping plans for a significant extension.
“The budget cuts have certainly been a disappointment to all,” noted Ewan McCubbin, the Assistant Director of Library Services. “However, we have still been able to achieve a tremendous amount of what we would have been able to do with the full budget,” he added.
This year, redevelopment works have included the addition of a cafe, furniture and carpet refurbishment, increased number of power outlets and the creation of bookable study spaces. Due to improvements in ventilation, heating and lighting, the building now boasts a more environmentally efficient design.
Some financial resources were dedicated to expanding the library’s book collection and databases, whilst the library’s opening hours have also been expanded.
Such changes responded to demand for a more study-friendly environment, modern equipment and resources, areas which had repeatedly resulted in low ratings in the iGrad survey.
Alongside its new interior design, the redevelopment has resulted in the creation of increased seating spaces. “Despite the limited budget,” McCubbin explained, “we have been able to create the same amount of seating spaces as the original plans included.”
This means an increase from 700 to 1200 spaces, which will be fulfilled after next year’s refurbishments. Extra seating space has been created by moving Special Collections to the North Haugh, as well as by relocating library staff offices from Level 1 to Level 2.
“It has meant inconvenience for the staff,” McCubbin mentioned, “but it has also provided staff with better quality accommodation.”
Further redevelopment works are due to continue in summer 2012, when Levels 3 and 4 will be refurbished. Beyond improvements in the central library, the continuation of the project also includes a new future location for Special Collections as well as the construction of a store for library resources.
The recent improvements have been the first significant investment in the library since it opened in the 1970s. “Plans for redevelopment were proposed before, but a firm decision on the final plan was not taken for many years,” McCubbin noted. “The discussion could have gone on for 10 more years,” he added. “We have shopped wisely and put students first, so we are very pleased with what we are delivering,” he concluded.
Returning students seemed impressed with the new layout. “I really like it. It’s very nice, much cleaner and brighter than before,” said Paul Ryder, a fourth year student from St Louis, Missouri.
“The cafe in particular is a great addition. People need food when they’re studying, it’s very prudent,” he added.