Bodleian's Weston Library opens

Oxford's Bodleian opens to the public following an £80m transformation of the Weston Library where scholarship, research, conservation and digitisation meet.

21 March 2015

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Photo: University of Oxford

The public opening marks the completion of an ambitious three-year project to dramatically renew this famous Giles Gilbert Scott Grade II-listed building, formerly known as the New Bodleian.

Described by lead architect Jim Eyre as a 'cultural and intellectual landmark', the reimagined library boasts state-of-the-art facilities for researchers to work with the Bodleian's outstanding special collections which include some of the world's most important cultural, intellectual and scientific treasures.

The completion of the Weston Library allows visitors to explore its new, fully-accessible public spaces for the first time. Entering through a spectacular new entrance hall on Oxford's historic Broad Street, visitors can appreciate and enjoy the library's great treasures in a variety of exhibition spaces, interact with the Bodleian's collections through new digital displays, or attend talks in a new lecture theatre.

The vision of this ambitious project was to fully modernize a historic library, overhauling 80-year old storage facilities for the Bodleian Libraries' collections to make them meet the latest standards; to dramatically improve research facilities to support scholarship at the highest level; and to create inspirational new facilities for engaging the general public.

To do this, London-based Wilkinson Eyre Architects have expertly transformed the library from the inside out, completely updating the interior while retaining the unique historical features of the building.

Central to this was the removal of an 11-storey book stack in the centre of the building to create Blackwell Hall, a grand 13.5 metre-high entrance foyer. From here visitors can look up to see an innovative glass-sided 'floating stack' which encompasses the centre of the hall, providing a glimpse into the inner workings of the library.

Installing 40km of shelving...

As part of a complete makeover of the New Bodleian Library, Ecospace – the specialist manufacturer of mobile and library shelving systems – has supplied and installed 40 kilometres of shelving to house the Special Collections of the Bodleian Libraries. The contract was valued at £2m.

Ecospace was also responsible for the design, fabrication, supply and installation of the floor structure and flooring which is integrated with static storage units to provide a three storey high shelving solution for the centre core of the building’s floors below ground level.

In addition to supplying and installing mobile and static shelving, plan chests and pull out picture racking with ‘soft close’ technology, the contract included shelving within staff offices and specialised work rooms, shelving with veneered end panels in reading rooms and low level storage units complete with doors and veneered end panels and tops.

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