Learning central

Roehampton’s new library will cater to the changing needs of its students for years to come, says its Librarian Susan Scorey

Why do we need a new library? In the middle of an extensive and sometimes quite muddy building site, you might wonder! With the noisy diggers and crane warning sirens, it’s clear that there’s a lot of serious construction underway; and I’m very pleased that it’s Roehampton’s first purpose-built library.

Building from scratch means we’ve had the opportunity, in workshops with students and staff, to plan every detail, from the construction to the internal layout; what type of study space is preferred and where to put the 380,000 books. This means we’re creating an academic building, which will really work for our students and academic staff, rather than one we all have to work around. 

Roehampton Library has been offering a great service located in Harvey for 30 years, with the Digby Stuart Library on the ground floor of the building for 30 years before that. The library has been modernised over time to meet changing demands. An example is the recent addition of 64 seats in modern study booths located on the lower ground floor. We’ve also just added power sockets to carrels on the fourth floor. Students tell us that they want to come to the library, as it’s the best place for concentrating, is quieter than their flat or at home, and encourages them to work hard, but the environment has not always supported that. 

Other universities have said that footfall doubles when a new academic library is opened, so our new building will be as flexible as possible to allow for the changing needs of the University over the years

The additional study booths are great, but nevertheless, there are only so many extra spaces we can create. The improved layout in our new building will allow us to provide over 1,000 study spaces in a variety of study rooms, booths, carrels and open spaces, around 200 more than at present. Our aims for the new building show just how important the University believes learning and studying is to completing a degree. 

From a welcoming ground floor, with wifi, study booths and exhibitions and displays, with a central enquiry desk and an extended study and café facilities, through the first and second floors to the top floor and quiet/silent study areas, we hope that the new library will encourage students to create their best work.

The designers – architects and consultant, as well as our Estates and Campus Services Department, have created a fantastic building, that very much meets the needs of our students and staff at Roehampton. I’m sure I can speak for all of our staff when I say we’re genuinely excited to have the opportunity to work in a state-of-the-art library. It’s already inspiring us to think of ways to improve what we do.

Other universities have said that footfall doubles when a new academic library is opened, so our new building will be as flexible as possible to allow for the changing needs of the University over the years. All the evidence shows students and staff will need libraries for many years to come, whether to find and use resources or to study in an inspirational environment. The aim at Roehampton is that the library is and remains, the focus of the academic community.

W: www.roehampton.ac.uk

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