New plans have been announced for construction at the New Bodleian Library on Broad Street.
The application to restore and renovate the library have been approved by Oxford City Council, meaning that the building will be opened to the public for the first time.
Despite its name, the condition of the New Bodleian’s building has been deteriorating for some time. It currently houses the Bodleian Library’s collections of rare and special manuscripts, and there have been questions in recent years concerning the safety of these documents due to the risk of fire, humidity, or inadequate security.
The cost of the renovations is estimated at £78 million, and construction is expected to take four years. Both the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Oxford University Press have contributed approximately £25 million to finance the project, and Julian Blackwell, President of Blackwell’s Bookshop, has donated £6 million.
The money will not only go towards the restoration of the existing structure, but to the creation of a new glass frontage on the Broad Street face of the library, an enlarged entrance hall, and the construction of a modern cafe and exhibition rooms for some of the manuscripts. The new structure will be known as the Weston Library in honour of the donor foundation.
New, high-tech storage facilities for the library’s special collections, some of which contain documents of national or even international importance, are to be assembled, which will serve not only to protect the papers but to free up space within the library for researchers as well.
The construction of exhibition halls for some of the most famous documents housed within the library, such as copies of Magna Carta, will allow for the creation of a noteworthy tourist attraction.
The books and manuscripts currently in the building will be accommodated elsewhere during the renovations.