The timetable for Magdalen’s library renovation project remains uncertain until the college reviews its funding of the development.
In an email to the JCR, Jamie Miles, Magdalen JCR Vice-President, maintained that the college had not yet fully secured funding. He told Cherwell, “The construction starting depends on funding, which has yet to be fully secured. It was decided that there will be a debate at the next Governing body to decide if construction should go ahead before or after securing all of the funding.”
According to Magdalen’s annual development report of 2012, “The New Library is no longer fit for purpose.” David Clary, President of the Development Trust, wrote that “the financial challenges facing the College are considerable.”
The chairman, Mark Loveday, added, “We will need to raise our game in the next few years with the help of our old members, in particular to improve the College’s sub-standard library facilities.” Magdalen is currently putting on fundraising events in order to fill the financial requirements for the project.
The Home Bursar, Mark Blandington-Baker was unavailable for comment.
Magdalen’s New Library was built in 1932 for a capacity of under 200 students. Student numbers have since tripled, and at 13:1, the library has currently the worst student to workspace ratio of any Oxford or Cambridge College.
Christine Ferdinand, Magdalen’s Librarian fellow said, “We regularly have to turn away students during Trinity Term, when they need the library most. Moreover, with its open stairs, narrow aisles, and high shelves, the library is inaccessible to students in wheelchairs.”
In order to improve the facility, Magdalen are planning to almost double the size of their library from 562 square metres to 1081 square metres, and to introduce wifi.
Although work has not commenced on the library itself, a preliminary archaeological investigation on Longwall Quad unearthed six human skeletons.
Since August, 59 skeletons in total have been exhumed on the main site.
300 wig curlers and numerous razors have also been discovered, linked to a barber shop which used to exist on the High Street side of the site.
When works eventually start on the library, students will be unable to use it as a study space. The college has told students it will organise works outside of the Trinity term to avoid disrupting finals.
The library staff said that they have already spoken to the central Bodleian library about organising access to the closed stacks for Magdalen students, so that they can order relevant books to Magdalen for the duration of the renovation.
In the email to the JCR, Miles warned against future disruption, saying, “As it stands, it seems like building work won’t get any worse than what is being done at the moment. However, when actual construction begins it will become noisier and more polluted.”