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Hertford closes its library until 2025 for £16m renovations

Hertford college library plans to close in July 2023, with the fully renovated library to reopen in Michaelmas 2025. The renovations are estimated to cost Hertford £16 million.

Hertford claims that “our current library is not fit for purpose”. Last updated in the 1960s, they say that “staff and reader facilities are inadequate and cramped, and we do not have enough capacity for our modern or our historic collections.” The library currently houses an antiquarian collection of around 5,000 rare books which they say is currently ‘below national standard’.

The design of the new building hopes to resemble a “living space.” It will have areas for silent, solo study, study carels, and communal tables for group working. For improved accessibility, there will be a lift to allow step-free access to all floors. Additionally, they plan to create temperature-controlled rooms that have the space and capacity to store their archives.  

The main reading room will be underground with windows designed to maximise light. The front quad will remain almost without alteration. The plans also include the construction of a room terrace which will look over the Radcliffe Square.

The projects for expansion will increase the floor plan from 273 sqm to 607 sqm, doubling the amount of study seats available. It will also provide five new meeting rooms.

These works form part of the college’s desire to reach carbon net zero and biodiversity net gain by 2030. The design includes increased thermal performance as well as upgraded green spaces. 

The renovation is part of the ‘Hertford 2030’ project which “preserves the best of our past and enables the future of learning.” The college aspires to have half of the renovation funded by philanthropic donations. They are offering alumni opportunities to name a chair in the new library for £1,000, add their names to an online benefactors’ book, or fund a particular area of the library. 

From Michaelmas 2023 Hertford college is planning to offer students study space provisions and access to resources from other locations across college sites.  

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