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Bill Bryson Library

Bill Bryson
Written by Roma Publications

Bill Bryson Library at Durham University

Durham University’s Bill Bryson library is undergoing a refurbishment to create an improved study and social environment for students. The library collections have been relocated to make room for these additional facilities that have been designed by GSSArchitecture.

Jonathan Hunter of GSS Architecture explained the details of the refurbishment:
“We’ve been working in partnership with Durham University for over 15 years now and we were appointed to the Bill Bryson library refurbishment through the current framework. The brief was to bring the ground and first floors of the library up to a better standard and create modern learning environment for students. The new facilities will provide two study floors, as well as a catering facility in the form of a café.

“On the basement floor, level 1, the design has added 98 quiet study spaces, and now includes modern private quiet study rooms, which facilitate needs such as disabled access. On the first floor, level 2, a more informal social study space has been created, split into three zones. There are more social aspects of the design here as well as plenty of learning space. An informal zone is placed at one end which holds sofa seating, whilst the middle section includes longer tables and charging ports for laptops – it’s ideal for longer sprints of studying and an easy place to grab food and drink or tea and coffee.

“The third and last zone has high bar seating with stools and is designed more as a ‘touch down’ area, where students can grab a coffee in between classes and then run. The project has also upgraded various other study spaces and booths throughout the library and in addition to adding a new help desk and information service.”

The library café is being relocated and expanded, providing new furniture and more space for a larger number of students. On level 2 new study booths have been installed in the entrance area on that level, and the enclosed spaces are ideal if students want privacy and minimum distraction. Complete silent study spaces are located on level 3 and 4. There are individual study rooms available on all levels, overlooking the atrium and can be booked for up to four hours. Included on level 2 is a disability support room and the library also offers a laptop loaning service.

A new seat tracking system has also been installed so students can see how many spaces and seats are free before they head over for the day.

Jonathan added:
“Because the library is open all year round, we planned the project for minimum disruption caused to students. In the summer period, we stripped the basement level of its old archive racking by taking out a section of external wall. The key to this careful planning has been communication between the library staff and main contractor so both ends know exactly what is happening each week in the university calendar and with the construction work.
“We’re making sure we’re responding to the demands and needs of students and higher education as a whole, and to do this we need to make sure the designs we come up with and produce are fresh and meet the needs of modern universities.”


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