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Library refurbishment - Summer 2021

Floor plan example 1
Library building
Floor plan example 2

In response to student feedback a major project (over £4m) to refurbish the main Library is underway and these works will continue over the summer.

Although there will be building work we will still be providing as many services as possible across this period. To help you plan your visit please see the calendar below and click through for more information.

Schedule of works

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Mon, Aug 16 Today Wed, Aug 18 Jump to any date
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Main Library entrance & floors 1 & 2 closed

Runs from Monday, July 05 to Monday, September 20.

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Floor 4 closed for essential maintenance works. Floor 4 will re-open on Tuesday 31 August.

Runs from Monday, August 16 to Tuesday, August 31.

Project overview

This project will focus on Floors 1 & 2 of the main Library building, updating these floors to create a contemporary, comfortable, work-inspiring environment.

The two floors are to be reconfigured to enable us to ultimately provide over 10% more study spaces, with 170 all year round, and over 200 in the peak period (assuming the end of current Covid restrictions). Also the toilet facilities on Floors 3, 4 and 5 will also be refurbished and essential maintenance works also carried out on these upper floors to ensure a reliable service is maintained.

Student involvement

Student feedback from the NSS, PTES, PRES and other surveys, and feedback from our Library Associates show just how important study space and the Library environment is to students at all levels, and we have worked closely with the Students’ Union through the design stages to ensure a student-centred approach.

Project detail and FAQs

Why are you refurbishing the main Library?

The main Library is Warwick’s most intensively used building. Every year it attracts 1.6 million user visits. It supports all subject disciplines and all levels of study. It is the heart of the academic campus for both students and staff.

The Library is extremely popular and, critically, not just for its location: students use the space for research, study, connecting and much more. They refer to it as their ‘second home’ and a place where they can be creative and feel inspired. It is the place where students chose to work hard and chill-out. Despite the alternatives of the Learning Grids and other study spaces across campus, the Library remains special and the location of choice.

However, this popularity has taken its toll and now the Library needs to be refreshed to once again give the high-quality space that encourages study and scholarship.

This modernised space will offer a variety of environments for students to study, to dwell, to relax and to attend to their wellbeing, with new types of spaces – including a Chill-out Zone and Co-Creation Space - giving students further choice.

An improved entrance will make the Library more welcoming, supporting students with specific needs and increasing accessibility for those from all our user communities.

Three key drivers for design were identified from the initial consultation exercises:

  • Greater capacity is needed, specifically in relation to study spaces
  • Spaces need to be diverse to support student needs, disciplinary needs and new ways of studying
  • Students of this generation (Gen Z) have higher expectations on the quality of their physical environment than ever before and when designing spaces ‘striking the right social-solitary balance is vital’(1)

A recent study(2) highlights ‘Finding the right balance of space, furniture, technology, acoustics and aesthetics is the challenge facing all universities striving to provide a relevant learning environment that accommodates new ways of study, without compromising the traditional quiet spaces that many students will seek on campus.’

(1) How to make your workplace ready for Gen Z, William Arruda, 13 November 2018.
(2) Not Lazing, Learning! How informal spaces power student learning in universities, HASSELL, September 2017.

When will the building work be carried out?

The majority of the works are planned to be completed during the summer vacation. Lib 1 is planned to be refurbished once this space can be freed up from teaching, c. December 2021.

Will the timing affect my access to study space when I need it?

The first two floors of the Library will be closed whilst the main works are completed. In addition, to replace the fire alarm, Floors 3, 4 and 5 will also be closed at some time during the summer. In addition, the toilet facilities will be closed for refurbishment. We aim to keep Library users updated on the timeframes for these works.

Despite all efforts to minimise disruption, there will be some noise arising. Again, we will aim to keep Library users updating so they can make appropriate choices on where to study. Other Library study facilities, such as the PG Hub, Rootes Learning Grid and the BioMed Grid will remain open during the summer period.

Once the project programme has been confirmed we will provide guidance on the timing of key stages of works.

Please note: these changes are subject to any restrictions required to be in place, such as currently due to the Covid pandemic.

How will the planned changes impact on study space?

  • The number of study spaces available to students will be grown in two ways. Firstly, we will increase the number of spaces, by reconfiguring staff offices and moving staff to release space for students, introducing new desk arrangements, moving the Reading Lounge to the Ground Floor (once Lib 1 ceases to be teaching space – c. December 2021), releasing current (Library) teaching spaces for study use (such as the Teaching Grid Collaboration area) and opening up further spaces, such as the (new) Co-creation space outside of booked events throughout the year. In addition, during peak times (such as the third term) additional teaching spaces, such as the Teaching Grid Experimental Teaching Space (ETS), will be available as study space. This adds c. 170 study spaces all year round, and over 200 study spaces during peak times, a total of over 10% increase in available study spaces (subject to other restrictions, for example, Covid restrictions)
  • Secondly, we will be able to introduce measures that increase the occupancy of study spaces, again subject to any restrictions. For example, a number of seats in group layouts may not be occupied. A table for six students working together equates to six spaces; however, a recent study(1) has shown that these group spaces are typically only occupied around 50% of capacity, with tables being used by only two or three students at a time. By introducing new types of furniture with divider systems, we can increase the efficiency of the use of individual spaces, thus increasing actual occupancy. At peak times we believe this will enable an actual occupancy increase from 50% to 75% or above in these areas
  • Re-planning of these floors will improve space utilisation and deliver a more open and welcoming environment. It provides an opportunity to create new spaces, such as a chill-out zone and co-creation space and maximises and improves the provision for specific student communities, such as a new type of quiet room with natural light and ventilation (not currently available) for specific needs students. By providing flexible and re-configurable study spaces, environments can be changed to meet the demands for specific types of study at relevant times during the academic year. The current furniture and fixings do not allow this
  • Furniture will be selected to support these new types of spaces and environments and new carpet across the whole of the first and second floors will introduce a vibrancy to the space and allow better definition between walkways and the variety of desired study spaces. In addition, replacement of the current carpet will be a positive response to feedback received from Disability Services and students with neuro-sensory disabilities

Will there be more study spaces?

Yes – please see above for more information.

Will there be extra study spaces during the exam period?

During peak times (such as the third term) additional teaching spaces, such as the Teaching Grid Experimental Teaching Space (ETS), will be available as study space. It is estimated that the additional study spaces created during term 3 will result in over a 10% increase in available study spaces.

Will there be new types of study spaces?

Yes – please see answers above and below re Chillout Zone, Co-Creation Space and social learning spaces.

(1) Review of group and collaborative study provision on Floors 1 and 2 undertaken in Academic year 2016/17, Term 2, week 7, twice per day (between 11am and midday and 3pm and 4pm). Over a period of 7 days usage of the study spaces on Floors 1 and 2 was observed. This study confirmed on the majority of occasions on average 50% or less of the overall group/collaborative study spaces were utilised.

What sorts of study spaces/environments will there be in the refurbished Library?

A variety of spaces(1) will be available – where students can study on their own with their own resources and/or laptop or with a PC or to study with others.

We will also provide spaces for social learning, where students can develop their collaboration and communication skills, and feel part of the Warwick community.

Will there be spaces for collaborative working?

The two floors of the Library will retain a number of tables where students can study together. In addition, we will provide project spaces to support students in their group work and developing their team working skills which will support their employability.

(1) A selection of indicative images are included to denote look and feel of spaces and illustrate social learning spaces, project/dwell spaces, a co-creation space and display space.

How will the refurbished Library help with my wellbeing?

The refurbished Library will offer new quiet, chill-out spaces so students can manage their wellbeing during the day or night, whilst neuro-diverse students or students just overwhelmed by daily activities, exams or other pressures can find quiet space to re-focus and look after their wellbeing.

The Education Strategy talks a lot about ‘co-creation’ – how will the refurbished Library facilitate this?

To support new ways of studying we will develop an exciting new co-creation space alongside the Teaching Grid facility. This will be a space where students can work in partnership with academic colleagues, professional services and each other to co-create their educational experience – in line with the Education Strategy. At peak times these spaces can be transformed to increase the number of quiet study spaces. .

Will the nature of study space change in Term 3?

There will be more flexible spaces that can be reconfigured – so, for example, social learning spaces, co-creation spaces and some of the Teaching Grid will become revision hubs as we approach the exam period. This will ensure we meet different needs at different times and increase actual use of the space. This will give choice to the students and a better return on investment for the University.

(1) A selection of indicative images are included to denote look and feel of spaces and illustrate social learning spaces, project/dwell spaces, a co-creation space and display space.

What other benefits will the refurbishment bring?

In addition to refurbishment of Floors 1 & 2, essential maintenance works will be carried out to update and improve the Library infrastructure.
  • Fire Regulatory Interventions - the fire system needs to be replaced throughout the building and the fire doors require refurbishment to meet current building regulation standards
    • In addition, occupancy will be monitored and measures taken to remain within permitted limits should this prove necessary
    • In line with the approach with other high-rise buildings on campus, a communication system is to be installed within the fire refuges to enable disabled and limited mobility users to contact the University Security team in an emergency evacuation and obtain guidance
  • Toilet facilities - the Library is a high use, high demand building – toilet facilities need to not only be adequate in number but also able to cope with the demand. The toilet facilities within the main building, Floors 1 – 5, are in desperate need of refurbishment and the basic infrastructure is both due and in need of replacement and repair. Essential infrastructure and maintenance works need to be carried out to sustain and maintain the toilet provision. This includes the replacement of the soil stacks and hot and cold water supplies to the whole building
  • Energy efficient lighting - incorporating the University’s Climate Emergency Declaration and aim to reach net zero carbon from our direct emissions and the energy we buy by 2030, the project has identified significant energy savings by replacing the existing poorly controlled fluorescent luminaires to ‘intelligent’ controlled LED to the refurbishment scope areas
    • The lighting installation on Floors 1 and 2 will improve both the quality of the space and provide useful real time information to students on availability of study spaces, helping students to find appropriate study places. This information will be supplemented by other systems to provide the availability of study space throughout the Library

Will the toilets be more reliable?

The refurbishment includes the updating/replacement of the basic infrastructure, such as the replacement of the soil stacks and hot and cold water supplies to the whole building in addition to replacement of the sanitaryware.

What are the ecological benefits of the refurbishment?

The toilet flush system will include environmental dual flush system.

Is this a ‘green’ building project?

We are to re-use furniture and equipment – any items not to be retained are to be offered for use to other departments on campus, providing the items are in a suitable condition.

In addition, essential maintenance works will be carried out to update and improve the Library infrastructure.

Student voice

Chloe Batten, the SU Education Officer (2018/19), agreed this project will help to further meet the pressing needs of today’s students:

The planned Library refurbishment will provide inclusive spaces not only to support learning in its various forms, it will also support student research and co-creation, enhance student comfort on campus, and assist with student wellbeing too.

We’d love to hear what you think. If you have any comments, questions or feedback, please contact us via the general Library enquiries email: library at warwick dot ac dot uk.


Please contact us if you have any questions: library at warwick dot ac dot uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

You can also keep up to date with developments via social media or our news updates.


Study space availability

Remember, as well as Library spaces, there are alternative study spaces across campus you can use. Check this to help you plan your destination on campus.

Exterior of the Library building

See which of our spaces are currently open.