13 March 2009
The redeveloped New Bodleian library building will be renamed the Weston Library in honour of the £25 million donation given in March 2008 by the Garfield Weston Foundation toward its transformation into an advanced special collections library and cultural centre.
Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian, will make the announcement on 14 March during the Founder’s Luncheon held by the Bodleian Library, an annual event commemorating the birth of its founder, Sir Thomas Bodley in March 1545, and his legacy of philanthropy. The formal renaming will occur in 2014 following a major refurbishment of the New Bodleian building.
The gift, the largest ever made by the Foundation, was announced at the launch of Oxford Thinking: The Campaign for the University of Oxford last May. It is also the largest donation received to date in the Library’s history, and is one of the leading gifts to the University’s campaign which aims to raise a minimum of £1.25bn.
Coupled with matching funds from Oxford University Press, the Garfield Weston Foundation grant will transform the accommodation for the Bodleian's priceless collections and will open up its treasures to the public. The redevelopment will revitalise the 1930s Giles Gilbert Scott facility, constructed essentially as a book store and known simply as the ‘New Bodleian’, in contrast to the ‘Old Bodleian’ library, into a major research centre. Scholars worldwide, citizens of Oxford and visitors to the city will be able view some of the University’s greatest treasures and gain insights into the research activities of the University. With spaces for exhibition galleries, lectures, and seminars, the aim is for the Weston Library to become an even more active partner in the intellectual life of the local and international community.
Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian and Director of Oxford University Library Services, said: ‘The Garfield Weston Foundation has time and again shown its generosity to Oxford. Their commitment to help make the extraordinary collections of the Bodleian accessible to a wide audience and to create the conditions which ensure the security, preservation, and scholarly use of our collections is marked not only by their philanthropy, but by their passion for excellence.’
The redevelopment project of the New Bodleian building will involve the rebuilding of the central book stack, the installation of three floors of secure storage below ground level, the provision of additional reading rooms, and the creation of dedicated floors for curation and conservation. The refurbishment will also see the ground floor of the library opened up to the public, with the creation of exhibition galleries and learning space, allowing Oxford residents and visitors to view some of the University’s greatest treasures and to gain insights into our research activities.
The refurbishment of the New Bodleian building is part of a larger scheme to revitalize Oxford’s historic Broad Street by creating a new public square. The plans are supported by both the local authorities and the Oxford Preservation Trust.
Picture: New Bodleian Development, Preliminary Proposal (Wilkinson Eyre Architects)