- Work begins: June 2021
- Work completed: Feb 2022
The Special Collections Reading Room was built in c1995 in the West Building of the Brotherton Library. It was designed as a secure, silent study space for users to access the most valuable and unique assets of the Library. In the following 25 years, the space had no modification and facilities became limited for the changed needs of users who wanted to work collaboratively.
Researchers were consulted about the existing facilities and identified areas for improvement. This project will improve the space for group and individual work, creating better lighting, comfort and access to plug sockets.
The Special Collections Reading room was built in c1995 in the West Building of the Brotherton Library. It was designed as a secure, silent study space for users to access the most valuable and unique assets of the Library. In the following 25 years the space had no modification and facilities became limited for the changed needs of users who wanted to work collaboratively.
John Bedford approached the Library as a potential home for his Library of Furniture History. The collection was a good fit for Special Collections, with serious research and teaching potential. John Bedford wanted his collection to be accessible for future scholarship and recognised the financial investment required, dedicating a percentage of his Estate to supporting his collection. The John Bedford Will Trust enacted John’s wishes. They recognised the opportunity to build a dedicated teaching space as part of the Special Collections Research centre and tackle broader user feedback about the limitations of the existing space for collection engagement.
The new Brotherton Research Centre has been designed to be welcoming, with comfortable space to take a break from intensive study and enjoy displays of highlights from the collections. The focus has moved to collaborative work – with noisy, interactive group space designed for users to congregate and discuss collection items. Silent study space is still available, and is soundproofed for the first time for scholars who still require concentration.
The John Bedford Room is a new space for an increased number of teaching and research events, with high tech visualisers to support multimode activity for onsite and remote users to engage with collections. There are small private meeting spaces for researchers and donors to meet with curatorial staff and to undertake ‘virtual’ consultations.
The spaces are for everyone at any stage of their research journey, to be inspired by unique collections and get involved in the creation of new knowledge.
Key milestone dates:
- Special Collections staff prepare the research centre for work and decant into alternative workspace (May)
- The Brotherton Library is closed on weekdays for customers, although Library staff will still be able to retrieve items for the click and collect service (from 5 June)
- Big Brotherton shelf reorganisation project (June–September)
- Construction work on the John Bedford Room in progress (June–November)
- West Building link corridor work and renewing the parquet floor (July–August)
- Main Brotherton Library reopens for customers (September)
- Furniture and fittings installed in the research centre (November–December)
- Construction completes/handover (23 December 2021)
- Level 3 Furniture Reinstatement (w/c 3 January 2022)
- The new Special Collections Research Centre opens (January 2022)
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have introduced a higher level of uncertainty in the supply chain for construction materials, which may cause a delay in some of the works.