18 June 2013
A celebratory topping-out ceremony took place at the Bodleian Libraries on 18 June 2013 to mark significant progress in the major reconstruction work on the Weston Library, formerly known as the New Library. The iconic structure is undergoing an ambitious refurbishment to modernise its facilities including the creation of a striking rooftop reading room with spectacular city views, state-of-the-art digital media centre, a conservation centre and a new Visiting Scholars Centre.
The New Bodleian closed its doors at the end of June 2011 following more than seventy years of service to the University of Oxford. The demolition began immediately afterwards in August 2011 and involved removing 6,500 tonnes of concrete, 140 tonnes of salvaged stone and 1,000 tonnes of steel. New internal spaces were formed during the year-long construction stage including a new internal bookstack and public entrance hall, and the stone façade was cleaned. The Weston Library now moves into its final fit-out stage.
Reconstruction is progressing swiftly and on schedule. Notable improvements in fire safety and an overhaul of the climate control systems will provide the necessary fire protected and environmentally sound storage conditions for the Bodleianís special collections. The New Bodleian will officially reopen to the public in March 2015 as the Weston Library, although the building will be accessible to Bodleian readers from the beginning of Michaelmas Term 2014. When complete, some of the University's greatest treasures will be on permanent public display. Additionally, new public galleries will showcase major exhibitions.
Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in the 1930s, the Grade II listed building is a recognisable feature of the Oxford cityscape, given its prominent location on the corner of Broad Street and Parks Road. The building was in need of upgrading in order to meet the National Archives' Standard for Record Repositories. Compliance with this standard allows the Library to continue to hold major archival collections accepted in lieu of tax and to receive funding to support archival material.
The transformation of the New Bodleian is being supported through the generosity of benefactors to the project, including a donation of £25 million by the Garfield Weston Foundation and a gift of £5 million by Julian Blackwell. Oxford University Press is also generously providing support of £25 million towards the project. The refurbishment is currently projected to cost £80.47 million.
Follow the progress of the refurbishment in its last year at www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/weston.