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Radical revamp approved by Council

Plans include opening up an underground tunnel connecting the Radcliffe Camera and the Old Bodleian
Sophie Core on Tuesday 17th August 2010
Photograph: Wojtek Szymczak

A Bodleian Libraries project worth Ł5m, designed to upgrade space within the central Bodleian site, has been approved by the Oxford City Council.

The project, which is due to start in the Radcliffe Camera in October, aims to improve library services and to facilitate disabled access, allowing readers with limited mobility access to the Radcliffe Camera for the first time.

Library services may be restricted until the work is completed in late spring 2011. However, a Bodleian Libraries spokesperson said that 'every effort' would be made to minimise disruptions to students and readers.

'We recognise that the Radcliffe Camera is extremely popular with students and we intend to keep the Upper and Lower Reading Rooms open to readers throughout the building project as much as possible,' said Sarah Henderson, Head of Communications for the Bodleian Library.

Renovation plans include opening up the tunnel that connects the Radcliffe Camera and the main library of the Old Bodleian building, which will be known as the Gladstone Link.

'The tunnel and conveyor have had an important role in the mythology of Oxford over the last sixty years – many people believe there is a maze of tunnels underneath the libraries,' reads a Bodleian Libraries press release.

The project also outlines the installation of platform lifts in the Radcliffe Camera as well as in the Old Bodleian main building, and the adjustment the paving level in the Old Schools Quadrangle.

It is said that the quad was once been level with the doorways in the square, but the surface was dropped to accommodate a new drainage system.

These plans were first unveiled in April and submitted to the Council for review on Tuesday 13 July.

The project is lead by Purcell Miller Tritton, which has previously worked on other Grade 1 buildings including St Paul's Cathedral, Kew Palace, and the British Museum.

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