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University Library gets green light for £40 million redevelopment – University of Reading

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University Library gets green light for £40 million redevelopment

Release Date 27 January 2016

The Library

A £40 million redevelopment and refurbishment of The University Library starting this June, has been approved by the University Council.

The 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 First Floors. 

The redevelopment will provide better access and security across the building as well as improving its energy efficiency, as a result of improved insulation and ventilation. 

New lifts will be installed, and an improved service for borrowing and returning books will be put into place. 

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.

The Library will remain fully operational to students across the entirety of the redevelopment, with work anticipated to be completed by the end of 2019. No building work will take place at all during exam periods.

The major redevelopment comes after the first £4.4m phase revamped the study spaces and furniture on the second, third, fourth and fifth floors.

“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 evolved over its 50 year history and as these excellent new facilities become available to students and staff.”

Specific key areas of improvement will be:

  • Study seating capacity increased by 200.
  • Installation of 3 new 16-person lifts serving all floors, plus a new book lift.
  • Toilet capacity increased with toilets available on all floors, including disabled and gender neutral provision.
  • Significant improvements to wheelchair accessibility. 
  • A new clearly-defined entrance, with improved security, in the central location of the façade leading on to redefined landscaped frontage.
  • Introduction of improved automated services for borrowing and returning books.
  • External cladding and fenestration to improve building sustainability and energy saving.
  • Upgrades to all roof finishes and thermal insulation.
  • Removal of backlog maintenance.
  • Expansion of the café spaces, including opening glazed doors onto external al fresco areas.
  • Reduction in Library energy use of around 40%, with carbon emissions reduced by 30% through efficiency improvements gained with the replacement of mechanical services and improved thermal insulation.

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. 

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. 

Planning permission for the project was granted by Reading Borough Council last December. 

Full details, updates and important information on the refurbishment will be made available across various communication channels. The Library have set up the site to collate project information and development, along with Frequently Asked Questions. A wider Campus Projects website is also currently in development, in which the Library redevelopment will be featured as a current project. 

Internal staff and student communication channels will also be used to help provide as much information as possible across the development of the project.

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