Skip to main contentCambridge University Reporter

No 6431

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Vol cxlvi No 36

pp. 678–708


First-stage Report of the Council on the construction of an off-site storage facility for low-use library material

The Council begs leave to report to the University as follows:

1. In this Report the Council is seeking approval in principle for the construction of a new building on a plot at Lancaster Way Business Park, Ely, for the long-term storage of low-use, printed library material.

2. On-site, immediate access to print collections which directly support teaching, learning, and research is highly valued and is critical to the work of academic staff and students. Work undertaken since 2013 has demonstrated, however, that at least 98,000 linear metres of shelf space across the University’s libraries is taken up by unique but low-use print materials which do not need to be available for immediate access on-site. This is estimated to grow to 106,000 linear metres by 2030.

3. The capital and opportunity costs of continuing with a policy of on-site storage for all of the University’s printed library materials are high. The University Library’s capacity to store books at the current rate of intake will be exhausted in the foreseeable future; a further extension has been considered but would be neither cost-effective nor straightforward to implement. Space on other University sites is extremely constrained, and the removal off-site of low-use library material will enable strategic planning and re-use of the University’s core estate for other purposes.

4. A capital project to develop an off-site storage facility was registered with the Planning and Resources Committee in 2012, following consultation with the General Board, the Councils of the Schools, and other stakeholders. A feasibility study was subsequently undertaken with participation from Faculty and Departmental libraries across the University, in addition to the University Library itself. The project has the full support of the Library Syndicate.

5. As part of the development of this project a thorough review of freehold land within a 50-mile radius of Cambridge was undertaken. More than thirty sites were considered and referenced against size and configuration, ground conditions, neighbouring occupiers, acquisition costs, transport links, and planning consents. The proposal to acquire the site at Lancaster Way, Business Park, Ely, was considered and approved by the Finance Committee at its meeting on 8 July 2015.

6. The building will provide storage for up to 106,000 linear metres of low-use, printed library material and will comprise a gross internal area of approximately 5,000m2. Material held at the off-site storage facility will be made available to staff and students via a regular retrieval service.

7. The Full Case for this facility was approved by the Planning and Resources Committee on 24 June 2015. Estate Management and the University Library have subsequently undertaken a rigorous tender process in order to achieve a fully market-tested cost for the project, which will follow a single-stage ‘Design and Build’ approach which is uncommon within the University but suitable for this more industrial facility. The Planning and Resources Committee, at its meeting on 22 June 2016, agreed that the project could proceed within a budget of £17.1m, including land costs. Further details relating to the design, maintenance, and recurrent costs, with proposals for funding, will be brought to future meetings of the Buildings Committee and the Planning and Resources Committee. A Second-stage Report will be published in due course to seek approval for implementation of the project.

8. The project is planned to be completed so that the new building is operational by May 2018.

9. A plan showing the location of the proposed new building is shown below.

10. The Council recommends:

I. That approval in principle be given for the construction of an off-site storage facility for low-use library material.

II. That the Director of Estate Strategy be authorized to apply for detailed planning approval in due course.

22 June 2016

L. K. Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor

David Good

Rachael Padman

Ross Anderson

Alice Hutchings

Shirley Pearce

Richard Anthony

Fiona Karet

Michael Proctor

Jeremy Caddick

Stuart Laing

John Shakeshaft

R. Charles

Priscilla Mensah

Sara Weller

Anne Davis

Location plan of the proposed off-site storage facility for low-use library material