Radcliffe Science Library Redevelopment

Image of the Radcliffe Science Library from South Parks Road

Introduction to the redevelopment project

A plan has been put forward to refurbish the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL), making a number of alterations and improvements to the space to meet the changing needs of the science divisions, the wider University and community.

A pre-feasability study was completed in late 2016, as a joint initiative by the Bodleian Libraries and GLAM (Gardens, Libraries and Museums), with the Mathematical, Physical & Life Sciences, Medical Sciences and Social Sciences Divisions, and with the support of the Humanities Division. The study explored three different options for the space. The option preferred by the University - developing the site for GLAM as a Collections Research and Teaching Centre and a refurbished Radcliffe Science Library - was then, in 2017, approved for progress by both the University's Buildings and Estates Sub-Committee and Capital Steering Group.

As of early 2018, the project is now in the feasability stage. This stage includes consultation with users and so the Bodleian Libraries are seeking the opinion and feedback from all stakeholders: students & researchers, scientists and academics, staff, public bodies, partners and the public.

Project objectives

The broad aims of the project are to support:

  1. Academic Excellence
  2. Public Engagement with our Communities showcasing Oxford Science
  3. Collaboration
  4. Renewal and Regeneration

What is being proposed in this refurbishment?

The Radcliffe Science Library currently provides services to support the research, learning, teaching and widening engagement needs of the science community at the University of Oxford.

This Grade II listed building consists of 19th and 20th century wings with a 21st century linking structure and a large 1970s basement space. The changing needs of students and researchers in the sciences now challenge the suitability of the current physical design and the removal of Special Collections materials to the Weston Library provides an opportunity for the radical revision of services and spaces.

The redevelopment of the RSL will enhance access to Library resources, collections and specialist library staff through the transformation of the current library and technology to provide a world class facility; the main function of the RSL as a library will not change. This project aims to meet the changing needs of the science divisions, the wider University and its communities, creating a dynamic new space which will transform the area and offer a multipurpose environment. The plan demonstrates a shared commitment to redevelop the physical library provision of the RSL.

The refurbishment involves proposed changes across a number of levels, outlined below (with links to proposed plans):

  • Level 5+6 and Level 7+8 will remain as library spaces for readers, with refurbished areas for study & collections
  • Level 4 (ground floor) will be opened up to include a public café, exhibition and lounge to help facilitate public engagement
  • Level 2-3 (basement) will include seminar and teaching rooms as well as breakout spaces. Space will be dedicated to the storage of collections from the University museums as part of a shared GLAM Museums Collections Research and Teaching Centre. This will enable the collections to be made accessible for research and teaching in a central location and in close proximity to academic departments, thereby facilitating collections-based teaching and interdisciplinary research.
  • Level 1 (sub-basement) dense museum storage

Provide feedback on the feasibility stage plans


The feasibility study is overseen by a Project Board in line with the University's arrangements for the governance of capital projects. A Building Group, with representation from the museums, Libraries, student body, MPLS and MSD, is working with the project's professional consultant design team to deliver the project and consult and communicate.

The members of the Building Group are:

  • Chair: Catriona Cannon, Deputy Librarian (Bodleian libraries)
  • Beth Gibbs, Interim Head of Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Libraries (Bodleian Libraries)
  • Toby Kirtley, Head of Estates Projects (Bodleian Libraries)
  • Janet Stott, Head of Education OUMNH (Museums)
  • Lucy Blaxland, Collections Manager MHS (Museums)
  • Keri Dexter, Head of Strategic Planning & Projects (MPLS)
  • Chris Price, Head of Strategic Planning & Projects (MSD)
  • Emma Espinosa (Student Rep)
  • Matthew Buchan (Student Rep)
  • Academic representative from MSD TBC
  • George Ratcliffe, Head of Department of Plant Sciences (Academic representative from MPLS)
  • Paul Prince, Capital Projects Programme Manager (Estates Services)

For more information about the RSL visit the Radcliffe Science Library website.

For more information about the project or any queries please contact enquiries.rsl@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Provide feedback on the feasibility stage plans

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