23 January 2007
Work is under way to form a new science and medicine library for the University of Oxford from three existing libraries: the Radcliffe Science Library and the Hooke Library in Parks Road, and the Geography Library in Mansfield Road. The library, to be situated in the refurbished Radcliffe Science Library, is expected to be ready at the end of September for the new academic year in autumn 2007.
The University libraries' policy is to focus its services in five main centres or hubs, thus reducing the number of small libraries scattered around Oxford. As part of this policy, a new Social Science Library opened in 2004, and it is planned that a Humanities Library will be built on the site of the Radcliffe Infirmary, which has recently been acquired by the University. The Radcliffe Infirmary library is closed and the collections incorporated into the Cairns Library at the John Radcliffe Hospital, which concentrates on material related to clinical and Health Service matters.
The building work to modify the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) is expected to start at the end of February 2007. The library will remain open for most of the refurbishment, although some areas will be closed to readers. Seating will be reduced, but it is hoped that readers may be able to study in nearby libraries. It is likely that the whole library will be closed for up to three days while some of the services are moved to temporary accommodation in the RSL forecourt. It will also close for one week during September when the Geography collections are brought into the RSL.
There will be no parking at the RSL during the building works, apart from designated parking spaces which have been provided for visitors to the Museums and RSL, and the University Occupational Health and the Safety Office.
The new library will provide improved services and many benefits for readers – longer opening hours, better and safer access, the availability of more books for borrowing, increased electronic resources, wireless access, and self-issue services. The challenge is to create a new library for science and medicine in Oxford that incorporates the best of new technology and takes account of the radically changing needs of research and teaching. It is also felt to be important to preserve the strengths of the existing libraries and provide a flexible approach for their future integration.