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Report of the Council on a third phase of the Stage III extension to the University Library

The COUNCIL beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. The Council reported to the University in July 1995 (Reporter, 1994-95, p. 1063) and in January 1996 (Reporter, 1995-96, p. 365) on proposals for the first two phases of the Stage III extension to the University Library. The first of these phases was the construction of a south pavilion, to be named the Aoi Pavilion in recognition of a generous benefaction from Mr Tadao Aoi, and the second was a westward extension at basement level of the bookstacks of the 1971 building. Both these projects are nearing completion.

2. The Library Syndicate have now proposed a third phase of the Stage III extension, which will extend the north-west corner of the Library building, as shown in the accompanying drawing. This entails incorporating part of the 1971 building into a new wing extending from the original Gilbert Scott building and covering part of the westward extension of the bookstacks referred to above. This proposed development is in line with the decision made in 1993 by the General Board and the Library Syndicate that all further extensions should be in the style of the 1934 building. The proposals have been designed by Harry Faulkner-Brown Pearce Howe Murray Architects.

3. The north-west corner of the Library houses, on the ground floor, the Photography Department, and two double-height reading rooms, for Rare Books and Manuscripts, on the first and third floors respectively. These rooms are used by readers of the Library's most valuable materials, which can be read only under supervision. They are very heavily used for much of the year; reading space is inadequate and at peak times readers have on occasion had to be refused admission. The proposed extension will double the seating capacity of each of these rooms, providing a more comfortable working environment, together with improved levels of security and environmental control. The extension at ground-floor level will allow the related activities of photography, microfilming, and digitization to be expanded to meet growing demands from the Library's users, in particular for more of the Library's collections to be made available electronically.

4. In June 1996 a bid was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding certain phases of the Stage III development. It was announced in February 1997 that the bid had been partially successful; an award of £2.5m was made, to be used to fund 25 per cent of a scheme for the development of the Entrance and Exhibition Area (£192,500) and 50 per cent of the development proposed in the present Report (£2,307,500).

5. The estimated cost of the present proposals is £4.862m. This sum differs from that used in the lottery bid, being higher by some £0.5m, at least £0.2m of which is due to increases in construction costs since the date of submission. Taking into account moneys that have already been allocated for the Stage III development, there is at present a shortfall of about £1m, which the Library Syndicate hope to raise from other sources. A supplementary application will be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund in due course to seek assistance with any excess of costs over the original bid.

6. The Library Syndicate have agreed that, in order to complete the project in the shortest possible time and thus to minimize the inconvenience to readers, the work should be carried out in a single phase. The three affected departments will therefore be moved into temporary accommodation for the period of construction (expected to be between eighteen months and two years), and in order to provide accommodation for the Library staff thus displaced the corridors on the east side of the main Reading Room will have to be temporarily closed to readers. These arrangements will not affect the availability of material to readers; those using material currently consulted in the Rare Books reading room or the Manuscripts reading room will be accommodated either in a temporary reading room on the first floor at the south end of the Library (below the Official Publications reading room) or in one of the other existing reading rooms, and all manuscripts, rare books, and other materials currently consulted in these two reading rooms will continue to be available for use by readers throughout the period of construction. The Library Syndicate are aware that this building work will inevitably cause inconvenience, but they are confident that users of the Library will appreciate the greatly improved facilities that will ultimately be available in the enlarged Manuscripts and Rare Books reading rooms.

7. It is a condition of the Lottery grant that the project should be completed by 30 November 2001. The Library Syndicate are therefore anxious to proceed with the proposals by applying now for planning consent, notwithstanding the current shortfall of funds. Building work will not commence until the necessary funds have been identified.

8. The running costs of the proposed extension are expected to be in the region of £105,000 a year; the Council will take these costs into account when recommending allocations to the University Education Fund from the Chest.

9. Plans and elevations of the proposed extension are displayed for the information of the University in the Schools Arcade.

10. The Council recommend:

I. That approval be given for the construction of an extension to the University Library, as described in this Report.
II. That the Acting Director of Estate Management be authorized to apply for planning consent, and that, when the necessary funds have been raised, the Treasurer be authorized to accept a tender for the works.

2 February 1998


[Plan of the development - 24Kb GIF file]

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Cambridge University Reporter 5727, 4th February 1998
Copyright © 1998 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.