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Historic library undergoes £3.1 million revamp

Lady Hale, Ellie Williams from UBU and Professor David Clarke

Lady Hale, Ellie Williams from UBU and Professor David Clarke

The refurbished Wills Memorial Library

The refurbished Wills Memorial Library

Lady Hale unveils a plaque to mark the official re-opening of the Wills Memorial Library

Lady Hale unveils a plaque to mark the official re-opening of the Wills Memorial Library

Press release issued: 6 December 2013

A historic library at the heart of the University of Bristol has been brought into the 21st Century thanks to a £3.1 million refurbishment, which has been unveiled by the UK’s most senior female judge.

The Right Honourable the Baroness Hale of Richmond, the Chancellor of the University who was recently named as one of the most powerful women in the UK by BBC Radio 4, officially opened the refurbished library in the Grade II listed Wills Memorial Building last night [05 December] in front of 140 guests.

The library, which receives over 250,000 visits and lends more than 60,000 items every year, was in need of modernisation to meet the IT, power, audio visual and flexible study needs of the student body.

A large proportion of the refurbishment was funded by donations made to the Centenary Campaign, which was launched in 2009 to mark the 100th anniversary of the University being granted its Royal Charter.

Generous donors gave £877,000 towards the project, which began in June 2012 and has been managed in phases to minimise disruption.

The project sought to improve all areas of the library including the 1960s East Wing, the 1920s South Wing, the Ante Library and the Cooper Room.

Professor David Clarke, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, said: “Anyone who has seen the Wills Memorial Library will know that it’s a beautiful space with a unique character; a very important and iconic part of the University. We were careful not to distract from these features while installing the technology and furniture necessary to make it fit for the 21st Century.

“We’re very grateful for the generous philanthropic support we’ve received from alumni and other donors. This has ensured that the refurbishment was able to meet all the needs of our users and provide an even better space in which our students can study for many years to come.”

Users of the Wills Memorial Library, which houses the Earth Sciences and Law collections, were actively involved in the design stages of the project and assisted with decisions on space configuration and the types and quantities of furniture required for the refurbished areas.

Improvements included extensive internal refurbishment to all areas, space remodelling to Ante Library and Cooper Room, new specialist lighting, improved heating and ventilation control, and extensive desktop power provisions for the silent study areas.

Dr Jessica Gardner, Director of Library Services, said: “The refurbishment has retained the historic library environment enjoyed by generations of Bristol students whilst also modernising the space so current and future generations can study in new ways, with electronic media, within the beautiful setting of the University's original library.

“The space is even more popular than ever and students tell us they especially love the addition of the power and improved lighting at the desks to help them study effectively over long periods.”