The Bodleian Libraries has embarked on an ambitious period of renewal of its facilities for the safeguarding of, and provision of high-quality access to, its collections and services. The project at the heart of this scheme is the Weston Library (formerly the New Bodleian). The New Bodleian building is Grade II listed, and is a recognisable feature of the Oxford cityscape, given its prominent location on the corner of Broad Street and Parks Road.
Why is the New Bodleian refurbishment taking place?
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 renovation also enables us to develop facilities for the support of advanced scholarship and to expand access for the public to national and international treasures through new exhibition galleries and other facilities.
When was the original New Bodleian constructed and when was the building opened?
The New Bodleian building was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in the 1930s. Although the building was finished by 1940, its formal opening was delayed; instead, the building was commandeered for war-time purposes. It was primarily used by the Inter Service Topographical Department (under the auspices of the Admiralty) and their work was of considerable importance to the planning of D-Day. The Royal Observer Corps and agencies such as the Blood Transfusion Service and the Red Cross Prisoners of War postal book service filled the remaining rooms. The bottom floor was fitted out as a large air-raid shelter for the City. The building finally was opened by King George VI on 24 October, 1946.
When will the Weston Library reopen?
As part of this transformation, the New Bodleian closed its doors in 2011 and will reopen to the public as the Weston Library in March 2015. The Weston Library reading rooms opened to Oxford University staff, students and researchers on 29 September 2014. Readers intending to visit the Bodleian to consult special collections should plan their visit carefully to ensure relevant material is made available for their visit.
Why is the name changing to the Weston Library?
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.
Can you describe the extent of the renovation?
Demolition began in August 2011. The original book stack was removed down to the lowest basement level. The central stack has been rebuilt along with the installation of three floors of secure storage below ground level. The stone façade has been cleaned. New internal spaces have been formed during the year-long reconstruction phase including a new internal bookstack, additional reading rooms, and public entrance hall. Reading rooms reopened on 29 September 2014. The building will be formally opened to the public in March 2015.
How much will the refurbishment cost and how is the project being funded?
The refurbishment is currently projected to cost £80.47 million. 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.
Will the general public be able to visit the Weston Library?
Yes. Following completion of the refurbishment, the building will be opened up to the public in March 2015. Once inside the new ground floor entrance hall, the visitor has access to exhibition galleries, library shop, and public café area. The upper-stack and reading rooms will have restricted access for readers, researchers and staff.
Will visitors be able to see any of the Bodleian's treasures?
Yes. The Weston Library will include a generous exhibition space where highlights from our collections will go on permanent or temporary display. The first exhibition planned after the Weston library's public opening in March 2015 is Marks of Genius which will feature some of the Bodleian's greatest treasures. The entrance hall will be able to accommodate public events such as poetry readings and concerts.
Where will the main entrance be located?
The ground floor south façade has been opened up to create a new south colonnade and main entrance. Under the new upper-stack, a ground floor entrance hall will act as a central public space and foyer where scholars using the library and visitors to the public spaces enter the building and are then oriented toward the part of the building they wish to use.
Last updated 13.10.14