This week, Reading marked the opening of its newly refurbished Library with an Open House event and two exhibitions to celebrate the building’s history, and the prestigious special collections held by the University.
Originally starting out as a small building catering for just 500 students on the London Road campus in 1923, the Library has seen a huge number of refurbishments over the years. The latest instalment of these refurbishments began in 2016, when the University decided to invest over £40 million into creating a brand-new Library that could cater for increasing numbers of students and meet greener measures.
With the project finishing at the end of last year, the Library is now a brand-new building and a vibrant focal point of Reading’s Whiteknights campus. The refurbishment project has improved various key features of the Library by increasing study space, building a new larger café, creating better access to the building, implementing an improved book-borrowing system and becoming greener by focusing on reduced future energy usage.
As a historic institutional building, the Library is key to our students who use it for individual studying, learning resources, group work and exhibition displays, so it was integral that the building was updated to meet rising student expectations. As Stuart Hunt, Director University Library & Collections Services and University Librarian, highlights:
“The Library is an integral part of the University of Reading. It is our role to enhance both the educational achievement and scholarship of our University community.
We do this in many ways – through the provision of excellent facilities and spaces, collections, services and our staff. We know that libraries are an essential cornerstone of communities, connecting people with each other and connecting people with ideas. This Library does that for all members of our University community.”
On Monday 24 February, the University celebrated the opening of the newly refurbished Library with a special Open House event allowing anyone from within or outside the University to visit the building, make the most of free coffee and cake and take a self-guided tour of the new Library to see its improved facilities.
Two special exhibitions were also displayed throughout the day – one exploring the history of the Library and how it has changed over the decades from the 1920s to now – the other displayed one of Reading’s most celebrated research collections on literary icon, Samuel Beckett. As the world’s largest Beckett archive, the special collection was displayed for all to enjoy and learn from.
With the new Library already in full use by students, it is clear that it is more than just a building. The University Library is a fellow accomplice to learn from and be inspired by, and many alumni can attest to these fond memories during their time at the University. Its presence is unique and all of us here at Reading are excited about the new possibilities the recent refurbishment can, and is already, bringing.
Find out more about the recent refurbishment project here.