Levels 4 and 5 at Imperial’s Central Library reopened last week, as redevelopment works came to a close.
The two floors had been closed since the beginning of the summer, as cooling and ventilation systems were improved. Student feedback had long suggested temperature control in the library was a particular issue. Library Services said it was “the single biggest source of complaint from the student body for several years.”
The improvements were initially scheduled to be completed at the beginning of November, but this was pushed back to early December. Book moves are still currently taking place, as the items which had been moved to allow the development to happen are returned to their rightful locations.
The opening of the floors was highly anticipated by students and staff, who had faced a reduction in study space since the summer. One student Felix spoke to said they liked new lights, which they said were “softer”, and several others highlighted the improved power access; one physics student said “there is now really good power access, with every desk having plug sockets.”
However, other students we spoke to said the new air conditioning had made the library “incredibly cold”, while the smaller desks meant “now you had to sit next to more people” and they weren’t able to fit as much on the tables.
In a statement for Felix, Chris Banks, Director of Library Services, said “The works involved creating a new riser right the way through the building, replacing a major transformer, adding a new chiller to the roof and connecting this with infrastructure in the basement. Additionally, with the help of our colleagues in Advancement, we were able to raise funds to enable us to replace over 400 study desks most of which now have power and USB charging points. The “soft opening” last week has opened the space up for use. Testing and commissioning of all the mechanical and electrical systems will continue into early 2018. Meanwhile, we will now turn our minds to planning for levels 2 & 3.”
The College gave financial approval to the project this time last year. It will continue at the end of this academic year, as cooling and ventilation systems are installed on levels 2 and 3. These levels will close during summer 2018; those works are scheduled to be completed by the beginning of the next academic year. The total cost of the development works across all floors is reported to be £11 million.