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University to launch programme of library improvements

Main LibraryThe University of St Andrews is to invest £14 million in a programme of improvements to its Main Library.

Work will begin in June 2011 on a schedule of far-reaching improvements which will renovate the Library environment, expand the collections and provide 600 additional study spaces for students.

The improvement programme is an interim measure after the University decided to defer a major wraparound refurbishment of the Main Library building in North Street, St Andrews, costed at £46 million.

The interim programme will see £4 million invested to expand the collections and a further £7 million spent to renovate the Library environment and provide additional study spaces in response to student demand.

The University is continuing to plan and fundraise for a further major refurbishment of the Library beyond its 600th anniversary in 2013.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Dr Louise Richardson said:

Over the last 18 months, the landscape of higher education in the United Kingdom has changed markedly. From a position of relative buoyancy and growth, universities are now struggling to manage deep cuts in funding and the certainty of more to follow. Many are making staff redundant, or closing departments. In St Andrews, these are scenarios which we are determined to avoid if at all possible.

Since 2005 the University has wrestled with, consulted upon, refined and deferred final judgment upon a number of redevelopment proposals for our Main Library. These have ranged from a £25 million extension to the more recent plan for a £46 million wraparound refurbishment.

These proposals all offered their own unique benefits and challenges. They all however have two things in common – each was conceived and elaborated before the effects of the global economic downturn became fully and locally apparent and each tended to overlook the importance of investing in our collections.

At the same time, the growth of technology has had a major impact on the way students and scholars use libraries. Moreover, the commissioning of the New Medical School and associated moves will have the effect of moving 1000 of our undergraduates to the North Haugh.

There are real debates to be had about the merits of centralised library provision versus a decentralised model and about how best to create a library that can adapt to the breathtaking pace of technological change in how we gain access to teaching and research materials.

In the light of the fiscal and planning uncertainty we face, it is my view and that of my Principal’s Office colleagues that we cannot at this point commit the institution to spending £46 million on refurbishing the fabric of our central Library.

We hold equally firmly to the view that we cannot any longer delay taking fundamental action to improve our existing Library facilities and collections, notwithstanding the pressures of recession.

I believe that this programme will in itself deliver a modern, refreshed library environment, additional study space and a much improved collection in St Andrews. Crucially however, it should not be seen as a once in a generation event. It is an interim measure, a step along the way to the wider vision of a reinvented and wholly rejuvenated Main Library.

Subject to final approval by University Court, work on the new programme will begin next June.

Some £3 million is currently being invested in a new Library Store. A further £7 million will be committed to modernise the Library environment.

The University will renew furniture, fixtures, carpet, lighting, heating and the library entrance-way.

Premises in nearby Butts Wynd will be renovated to provide additional study spaces.

200 new study spaces will be created by September 2012 and a total of 600 by 2014, the date by which the original redevelopment scheme was due to conclude.

An additional £4 million over four years will be committed to expand the St Andrews Library collection, something which earlier iterations of redevelopment proposals had largely ignored.

The University aims to have the major part of these works complete by September 2012, and to conduct renovations in a phased way which will minimise impact upon students and staff.

Ends

Issued by the Press Office, contact Niall Scott on 01334 462244 / 07711 223 062, email ns30@st-andrews.ac.uk

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