The new library forms part of a five year investment to re-generate the University’s estates totalling £180m. This includes its Postgraduate and CPD centre on the Luton campus, the stunning teaching and learning Gateway building at its Bedford campus, and a new building in Luton devoted to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which is expected to break ground later this year.
Bill Rammell Vice Chancellor University of Bedfordshire said at the opening: “These new buildings have transformed our campuses, bringing our learning environments up to date and creating new spaces for our students and staff to interact and learn in.
“They have also generated significant investment and created jobs in Luton and Bedford.”
The University’s students have been fully involved the design of their new learning environment. “We wanted to ensure,” said the Vice Chancellor “that it was fit for purpose for their real learning, not how we think they ought to learn.”
While the students did say they wanted a quiet space for personal learning the University also recognised from their feedback that designing a library for the 21st century is not straightforward. Students said they needed to use their new learning space to work in teams, prepare projects and presentations and apply their learning in a practical way.
Mr Rammell explained: “The mission of this university is to expand educational opportunity, creating an excellent student experience that leads to excellent outcomes.
“If we are to deliver on that promise for this generation of students, we need to design learning spaces that can inspire, engage and support our students to achieve.”
The new library has exceeded all expectations; designed by mosescameronwilliams architects and built by Willmott Dixon it is set out over seven floors and has:
- 7400 meters square of library space
- 154,000 books on 6km of shelves
- Open 24/7
- Laptops for loan
- 530 PCs
- 916 study spaces
- Study Hub – where students can go for advice and guidance on academic and study skills
Colin Moses, Director at mosescameronwilliams architects, said: “The Development Framework we produced for the University of Bedfordshire in 2007 sets out the long term strategy for the estate, and focuses on delivering projects which directly improve the student experience.
“The construction of the new library is an exciting continuation of our successful relationship with both the University and the design team involved in the campus redevelopment.”
Stephanie Hensman, Community Engagement Manager for Willmott Dixon, added: “From a construction point of view, the library is a terrific addition to the University campus. It is both unique and recognisable, and has the longevity and adaptability to be a key facility for the long term.
‘We are delighted to have constructed this new University landmark and proud to be marking this key milestone in its development.”
The University’s Vice Chancellor concluded: “We have high aspirations for our students and we expect they will achieve ambitious goals. This library will help make their ambitions a reality.”