Friday, 14 March 2014

University of Loughborough’s Pilkington Library re-opens after Refurbishment

The Pilkington Library at Loughborough University has emerged smiling from a fast track building programme. It now has 1375 library seats, greatly improved facilities including a new reception and information desks as well as fully reconditioned WCs throughout. All this was accomplished in a three month building period during which the library was closed, but provided a comprehensive service in an alternative location. The secret of success in the process lies in several things:
  1. The comprehensive user briefing process that was able to take place at the start. AMA provided concept sketches and important design ideas. These were iteratively developed with the library staff  particularly to bring light and increased connectivity into the formerly gloomy building; 
  2. the decision to close the library so that the extensive work could be carried out enabling additional aspects of improvement to be added to the programme as they would not cause additional disruption;  
  3. the watchful eye, determined support and continuous communication with stakeholders provided by the Library staff, especially Brant Hickman, the Library Facilities Manager, who is more of a Chief Operating Officer rather than a FM. 

The briefing process, into which the Library staff had full input, was longer than the build process.  The project success supports the fact - widely acknowledged, though not always acted on - that good preparation pays off. Though the successful contractor offered a rather different layout initially, the Library used the AMA plans as their ‘base line’ and brought the project back in most respects to what they had agreed they wanted

Closing the entire library – the main one on campus - for three months was a bold action. This is never popular with students. However the alternative service provided was so excellent that there was not a single complaint throughout. This helped the project greatly by opening the way for much wider improvements than originally envisaged. These had originally focussed only on bringing the 4th floor into use for learning seats.  Instead, all 4 floors of the library have received an uplift, and all within the original time scale. This will avoid the need for future disruption to complete small but important additional projects throughout.

Brant and his colleagues had to return regularly to the building during the build process, to collect and return books from the storage zones, as part of the service to the students. This allowed them to engage with what was happening, to suggest improvements, prevent mistakes arising from misreading drawings and maintain good contact with the process so that they could keep stakeholders informed.

A more detailed article will follow. Meanwhile pictures can be accessed on the library's Flickr site here, and more about the project is available here.


Library interior, after the refurbishment
© University of Loughborough Library  
Library interior, after the refurbishment (same location as below)
© University of Loughborough Library 
Library interior, before the refurbishment
© University of Loughborough Library 
Library interior, before the refurbishment
© University of Loughborough Library





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