7 March 2007
Plans for a large new storage facility on the Osney Mead Trading Estate for the University of Oxford libraries have been resubmitted to the Oxford City Council.
This high-tech, automated depository which will be able to store nearly 8 million books in a temperature-controlled environment will relieve pressure on the libraries which are already at the limits of their storage capacity. It is estimated that the Bodleian Library, for example, which receives one copy of every book printed in the UK, adds over 5 km of books to its shelves each year.
The original plans have been modified to meet objections that the depository might affect Oxford’s historic skyline; the building is a little smaller and lower than it was first hoped. There is also an improved concrete wall as a defence against possible flooding. A spokesman for the University described the building as ‘the best defended in the city’ against flooding.
As well as providing vital storage space for the libraries, the depository will give temporary storage for books while important refurbishment of library buildings is under way. The New Bodleian Library in Broad Street, which was built in the 1930s, is to undergo major renovation and will eventually become a Special Collections Library with increased public access, a permanent exhibition space and a conservation centre. While the work is under way, over 4.5 million books will be removed to the new depository.
It is hoped that the new book store, which will cost about £2.9 million, will be ready by March 2009. It will accommodate about 16 years’ growth, with the possibility of further expansion on the same site.