The new Brotherton Research Centre and John Bedford Room will now be furnished and ready to use in late February, with state-of-the art audio-visual equipment being added by June.
The Centre has been designed as a comfortable space to take a break from intensive study and enjoy displays of highlights from the collections. It will be a hub for collaborative work, with interactive group space designed for users to congregate and discuss collection items.
Silent study space is still available, and will be soundproofed for the first time.
The John Bedford Room will be used for teaching and research, equipped with high tech visualisers that enable those in the room and online to examine documents with a curator at the same time.
Researchers can book appointments to view documents virtually rather than on site – especially useful for international researchers. The room holds up to 40 people and has a moveable partition.
There are small private meeting spaces for curatorial staff to meet and undertake ‘virtual’ consultations.
Steve Gilley, Director of Estates and Facilities, University of Leeds said:
“Working with the Libraries team and our contractors we consulted with academic colleagues about what they needed from this space. They told us that there is a new focus on collaborative research, both in person and online.
“As a result there is now more space for group and individual work, with a mezzanine floor added, as well as better lighting and comfort, and the ergonomics of the space which came up in our consultation as an issue have been improved.”
Joanne Fitton, Associate Director, Special Collections and Galleries, University of Leeds said:
“We hope that these new spaces will inspire people at any stage of their research journey, giving them access to the amazing objects in our collections and to get involved in the creation of new knowledge.
“The new audio-visual equipment will allow us to share the treasures in the collections through public lectures, webinars and events, building on the success of our Galleries’ online programme during lockdown. Lecturers who teach with the collections will also be able to reach larger or geographically-dispersed groups.”
John Bedford was an antique dealer and collector who amassed a significant modern book collection on the history of furniture design over a period of 40 years. The John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History has been donated to Special Collections for teaching and research.
His generous bequest is supporting the extension and refurbishment of the Special Collections Research Centre.