The New Bodleian, a Grade II listed building built in the 1930s, became full after just 30 years. This led to books being stored off site, which proved expensive and impractical. In addition, the New Bodleian was not able to meet modern archiving standards, so a radical renovation project to create a new library – the Weston – was set in motion in 2011.
One of the key objectives of the project was to safeguard the 2.5 million volumes making up the Library’s special collections, including Shakespeare’s First Folio and four copies of the Magna Carta. Other objectives included modernising the outdated and energy-inefficient facilities and making the Library accessible to all, without compromising the historic building.
The resulting new facility has 11 storeys, including three basement areas. It houses three state-of-the-art reading rooms, a visiting scholar centre, a lecture theatre and a seminar room.
A major feature of the building is a new public space comprising an exquisite atrium, cafe and exhibition spaces. From here visitors can view a quadrangle of bookshelves on the floor above, exposed thanks to a new double-height ceiling and a windowed gallery.
Sustainability was a crucial factor of the project. Over 140 tons of salvaged stone were reused in the new facades and thermal tubes were installed in the roof to pre-heat water through solar power.