Library redevelopment completion delayed until May

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Level two renovation set to last into exam season, despite earlier assurances

library

Fraser McGowan
Editor

The redevelopment of levels one and two of the Glasgow University Library will not be completed until May, despite earlier assurances that the work would be completed by “early 2016”.

A spokesperson for the University told The Glasgow Guardian: “The Library is working very hard to ensure that the impact on students of the redevelopment of Levels 1 and 2 is kept to a minimum. All Library services and the majority of the study spaces in the building continue to be available and the Library will open up as many rooms as possible during the exam period.

“The redevelopment of Levels 1 and 2 is being done to address queuing at the Library entrance, to create further study spaces for students (including individual and group study spaces) and to continue the improvement of the Library’s infrastructure in which the University has made significant investment over the past few years.

The timing of the project has unfortunately been delayed and it will not be completed until May this year. The University is investing over £3.5 million [in the project]”.

The redevelopment began in the summer of 2015 and was initially due for completion last November, but the completion date was extended to “early 2016” after a string of delays.

Security staff are currently positioned at the temporary entrance to the library, at the side of the building, physically checking student cards on arrival. Concerns have been raised, however, over the security provisions that have been put in place since the closure of the main entrance to the building.  

The renovation of levels one and two of the library is one of the first stages in the £775 million campus redevelopment project, which will see the University take ownership of the now decommissioned Western Infirmary site and expand the existing Gilmorehill campus by 25 per cent, as well as the renovation of existing buildings such as the Joseph Black Building.

Liam King, president of the Glasgow University Students’ Representative Council, spoke to The Glasgow Guardian about the delays. He said: “The library refurbishment has become a saga worthy of Milton himself, which is exactly what the library will become when May arrives. This is a campus already stretched to breaking point. I’ll be very surprised if the current mismanagement, which is so in vogue, doesn’t break it this exam season. If Mark Twain said humour is tragedy plus time, then our English Lit students will find some comfort one day”.

The completion of other recent infrastructure projects on campus were also delayed, most notably the Stevenson Extension which houses the Hive nightclub. The project was initially meant to cost £7 million, but the final total was approximately £13.9 million. Construction work was delayed after a failure to tender the contract properly put the project fourteen months behind schedule. The newly rebuilt extension was due for completion in September 2014, but instead opened its doors to students in October 2015.  

The University is also in the process of installing a £16 million district heating scheme, which has involved the excavation of roadways, pavements and green space in order to install five kilometres of new pipework across the campus. The project is intended to help the University reach its environmental target of a 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions. Undertaken by Crown House Technologies Limited, it is due for completion in ‘early 2016’.

A spokesman for the University of Glasgow said: “The District Heating Scheme project is a highly complex and technically demanding operation. It involved installing more than five kilometres of new pipework on the Gilmorehill campus. We are still on track to complete the works, as intended, by this Spring and the combined heat and power engine at the heart of the project is already generating energy.”  

He added: “Any project of this size will produce exigencies, and both the University and its contractors Crown House are very carefully managing the project which has meant that all the usual, minor problems are addressed and any impact on budget minimised and accommodated within the overall budget contingencies. The district heating scheme is part of the core infrastructure to support the World Changing Campus that the University of Glasgow will create over the next ten years or so.  Where additional opportunities to connect to the system are identified, bids for capital expenditure will go to the Estates Committee and University Court in the normal way”.