The College has announced plans for a major redevelopment of the Central Library. The project is scheduled to begin in a few weeks and is set to finish in late 2015, with work taking place mainly this summer and next summer to minimise disruption to students.
The plans have been informed by the Central Library Space Survey, which took place in February of this year and questioned some 1,200 students on how they would like to see the library improved. Particular areas of concern were the number of work computers available and the temperature in the library. One student, whose comments were published on the College website, said that the heat in the library meant that they were “forced instead to use one of our departmental computer rooms which are quite noisy and don’t feel like spaces for serious work.” Another student added that: “I think the main setback is the lack of computers and individual study spaces. During peak times finding a free computer is like finding gold. … I think more individual study spaces with computers would really help.”
The first phase of the redevelopment work, which will be carried out this summer, will seek to address these concerns by creating a large new study area in the level three space vacated by the Science Museum Library. More study spaces will also be created on level two by moving some of the books currently housed there to level three.
The College has also submitted planning permission to Westminster City Council for the “installation of ventilation plant” to help with the temperature problems, specifically on levels one, two and three. Part of the climate control plan will also include enclosing the central stairwell. However, it is far from certain that this permission will be granted, as previous attempts to install climate control in the library have been scuppered by opposition from residents of nearby Alexandra Court, a block of luxury flats.
Further work planned for phase one also includes study rooms for the College’s new Centres for Doctoral Training – which are an increasingly popular means for providing funding for PhD students – and a new careers centre for Business School students. Both of these will be located on levels two and four of the Library.
The plans for phase two, work on which is scheduled to take place next summer, have not yet been finalised. However initial plans are for the work to focus on providing more study space and better climate control for levels four and five.