It might have taken a freedom of information request but we found out how much the new Central Library air-con is going to cost. And while we were at it we thought we’d ask for the cost of every single refurbishment the Library has undergone since 2004. Because nobody keeps secrets from felix (and also because College is only requested by law to keep data for up to 12 years).
Starting from the top. The Library’s single biggest expense still on record is the Central Library Reimaging, which will see the Installation of “chillers” on the roof and might help reduce face-melting temperatures. But we already knew it cost a fortune (£11 million to be precise) since it took a decade of complaints, plummeting NSS scores and Brexit for College to commit to improving the single most used space on campus. This is the Central Library’s single largest expenditure in recent recorded history. The attempt to please overheating students is costing more than all refurbishments the Central Library has undergone over the last decade.
The second and third most notable ‘Treat Yo Self’ moment in recent memory were (collectively) the 2008 refurbishments which cost £10.4 million. The ground floor, which back in the day housed a Waterstones (oh yes) and the Science Museum Library, was merged into the old walkway and became the Library Cafe and the group study area dotted with cosy think tanks. The Haldane Collection (also known as the Humanities collection of the Central Library) which used to sit in the north side of the library was evicted and replaced by the Wolfson IT Learning Suite (prime napping spot).
This project also marks the beginning of the “air-con curse”. The dimensions of the rooms which were meant to house the ground floor air conditioning units were different to the ones in the original plans. As the units are built according to the specifications of the room they’re housed in, considering the specs meant the Library re-opening was pushed back three months to July, after summer exams. To avoid drilling noises revising students were at the time advised to study at higher levels, which however had started reaching intolerable temperatures. All in all not much has changed since 2008.
The fourth splurgiest moment since the Athens Olympics was the 2015 Level 2 Development which saw the Science Museum library being once again evicted and the creation of additional student study spaces on Level 3. This cost £350,000.
Finally, last place on our Top Five and personal favourite (in fact the main reason behind this FOI) Is the Library Main Entrance Vestibule (commonly referred to as “the fucking Library doors”). The foyer enclosing the Central Library’s main entrance was constructed in just over a month and was meant to Improve climate control and conserve energy. It’s unclear whether it’s achieved these goals, but it’s certainly increased student frustration and might even have something to do with the mental health crisis facing higher education. We are finally proud to reveal that the Library doors outside the Library doors cost £143,000.
Other notable expenditures include two decoration projects (one in 2008 and one in 2013) which cumulatively cost £18,000 and £192,000 flushed down the toilets. Oh and wind catchers worth £75,000 in 2004, but even our Millennials editor, Tessa Davey, who’s been at Imperial for almost a decade wasn’t around back then to tell us if they successfully cooled down the Library, so I guess we’ll never know.
And now that you know how much that snazzy study space we call home has cost, stop trying to smuggle in pot noodles.