The New Bodleian (Weston) Library
Work has begun on the £78 million restoration and renovation of the New Bodleian Library, to be reopened as the Weston Library in 2014/2015.
The long-awaited project, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects (WEA), has three aims: to create high quality storage for the Libraries’ valuable special collections, which include the rare and unique manuscripts, books and maps that the Bodleian preserves for the international world of scholarship; to develop the Libraries’ space for the support of advanced research; and to expand public access to its great treasures through new exhibition galleries and other facilities.
Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian, said: “The architects, our Broad Street neighbours, library staff, and countless others have all collaborated in this visionary scheme. We’ve worked to ensure that the redeveloped building would appeal to academics and scholars but also would contribute to the city as an inviting space to share the Bodleian’s treasures, in dedicated exhibition galleries, with the general public.”
The New Bodleian was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott in the 1930s. It was built, essentially, as a huge ‘book fortress’. Wilkinson Eyre Architects has reinterpreted the building to respect its heritage while at the same time modernising the infrastructure; providing better facilities for students and researchers, as well as greater opportunities for collaboration with and outreach to the wider community.
This is a major project for a working academic library. The start of the renovation project followed the removal of over 3.5 million books. As a working research library, the Bodleian is endeavouring, despite a number of complex initiatives underway, to provide an uninterrupted service for its readers during the redevelopment. The scale of planned improvements is unparalleled among research libraries.
The Garfield Weston Foundation generously donated £25 million in support of the renovation; in honour of this gift, the New Bodleian will reopen in 2015 as the Weston Library. Oxford University Press provided matching funds of £25 million. Julian Blackwell, the President of Blackwell’s Bookshop, which neighbours the New Bodleian, has donated over £6 million, one of the largest cash donations ever made to a university library in the UK. The entrance hall will be known as Blackwell Hall. Almost £64m of the £78m project has been raised through the generous support of donors.
Find out about supporting the New Bodleian project by making a donation.
The New Bodleian (Weston) Library
The People’s Choice
Select one of the treasures for the first exhibition at the Weston Library in 2015.
The New Bodleian Library has been in urgent need of upgrading to modern standards appropriate for one of the largest and most important repositories of historical and legal deposit materials in the world. The planned renovations will ensure the building complies with national standards for the storage of the Library’s unique Special Collections.
Designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, the New Bodleian Library is listed Grade II and was completed in 1940. The Bodleian Libraries has consulted extensively with English Heritage, preservation groups and the City of Oxford to develop a plan that respects the best aspects of Giles Gilbert Scott’s classic 1930s building whilst opening it up to readers and visitors in a sympathetic fashion. A new Upper Floor Reading Room is proposed, which will make a feature of the original Gilbert Scott signature slot window design which will once again become visible through the removal of a 1960s addition to the top of the building.