St John’s has started work on a new £13.5m study centre and library extension to allow wheel-chair access, increase storage space and improve study areas.
The new facility, which will join to the first floor of the Laudian library, will include a two-storey study centre, as well as a new central archive within part of the President’s garden.
The centre “will double the number of reader seats” available to students and will provide a seminar room and study spaces with IT facilities for“ quiet, individual or team research and study”.
Extra shelving space will allow all undergraduate books and special collections to be stored inside the library or in a special basement area.
The college’s libraries are currently home to a number of rare books and manuscripts dating back to the 9th century.
St John’s JCR President Jessica Colston told Cherwell, “I think the main difficulties with the current college library is that we cannot open it for 24 hours a day, and it is inaccessible for students in wheelchairs or with other mobility issues. It’s really important that we support students with disabilities and the library is an essential part of the college, which should be accessible for all. Our current library also cannot be opened for 24 hours a day, and I know many would appreciate both earlier opening times for work before lectures and also opening through the night for those with less conventional work patterns!
“A new custom built space will allow students to study however they want and whenever they want. Undergraduate students will appreciate the new facilities such as communal areas that will let students work together in groups as well as enjoying more traditional study spaces for individual study. Making the college library accessible will also mean that disabled students can have the same access to study facilities as everyone else!”
Colston declined to comment on the cost of the project.
Principal Bursar, Professor Andrew Parker, told Cherwell, “St John’s College Library is a beautiful, historic building dating from 1595 but is lacking modern facilities and suffi cient study space. In addition, the current facility is not accessible for wheelchair users. The college has decided to build a new Study Centre, which links directly to the historic Library of the College. We believe that our students will greatly value the new improved facilities.” The new facilities will link the college’s Canterbury Quadrangle, which houses three of its four listed libraries, the Laudian Library, the Paddy Room and the 15th century Old Library, from the Groves area of St John’s College, a Grade II-listed park and garden, through to the President’s Garden.
Both the existing old Library and new Study Centre will be fully accessible for wheelchair users once the work is completed in December 2017. The existing Library will continue to be open as normal for students during the construction. The project is being completed by the construction company Stepnell who refurbished and extended the New Library at Magdalen College.