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General Information

a name and address
1 Type of library university [University]
2 Name of library / Name of mother institution University of Edinburgh Main Library / University of Edinburgh
3 Address George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LX
4 Phone / Fax / Email (+44 131 651 5041
5 Name of the director of the library Sheila E Cannell
6 Contact person for enquiries (Lesley Bryson
b population served
7 Current readership, number of registered readers 33 000 (full time equivalent)
8 Number of full time students 23 436 (headcount)
9 Number of part time students 5 538 (headcount)
10 Number of staff in institution 7 800
c the old/original building(s)
11 Total floor area 27 693 m² (built in imperial measures, 298,081 m²)
12 Number of reader seats 1 750
13 Total capacity of shelving 63 223
14 …in open access storage 43 756
15 …in closed access stacks 43 756
16 Number of library staff 185
17 Opening hours to the public 07.30-02.30 (19 hours per day), 34 weeks. Reduced hours (various) out of termtime

The New Building

a architect(s)
18 Firm Lewis&Hickey Architects,
19 Project Architect Emily Forde
20 Type of project
b aims of the new building
21 Short description of the main objectives and purposes of the project Full vision for project available at

Brief project vision is:

The redeveloped Main Library building will be:
- An intellectual hub for the University
- The focus for a wide range of activities in learning and
- A place where users can engage and converse with each
other and with information specialists
- More open and accessible
- Flexible to accommodate changes in the future
c special features
22 Site Location on campus in square which is all University buildings. Location is between 2 green spaces, George Square and the Meadows. Redevelopment has “brought the outside in”.
23 Architecture Original building designed by Sir Basil Spence and opened in 1967. For history of building see

Building was A listed in 2005. Building is rectilinear, very fine finishes - exposed polished concrete frame, polished concrete pillars, finishes in teak and beech. Exterior is primarily horizontal. Modular grid is 27 square feet.

Redevelopment is of similar high quality, retaining listed features. Modest introduction of highlight colours, and elliptical shape based on the proportions of the building plan.

Technical Information

24 Total gross floor area 28 175 m² (inc small new mezzanine addition)
divided into
25 Open access services 19 102 m²
special rooms for (26-29)
26 Audiovisual 53 m²
27 Computers
28 Special collections BS5454 archive storage facilities, conservation studio, digital imaging studio, viewing room, reading room, research centre and seminar rooms.
2 946 m2
29 Seminar room(s) 545 m²
special activities (30-32)
30 Exhibition space 118 m²
31 Lecture hall n/a
32 Public refreshments 378 m² Library Cafe
33 Administration and staff areas 4 912 m²
34 Closed access stacks 2 365 m²
35 Circulations areas (corridors, stairs, lifts), toilets, technical rooms, etc. 3 706 m²
36 Further information 8 levels, 7 open to the public
37 Number of reader seats (total) 2 248
divided into
38 Audiovisual AV equipment in all meeting rooms and study pods
39 Computers 573
40 Seminar room(s) 8 inc 3 training room
41 Regular 0
b total potential capacity of shelving
42 Books and periodicals (total) 31 464 linear metres plus 13 463 linear metres Special Collections
43 Open access stacks 31 465 linear metres
44 Closed access stacks 13 463 linear metres
45 Compact shelving included in 43 above
46 Audiovisual materials included in 44 above
47 Other 0
48 Number of staff required to operate the new library 185
c mechanical features
49 Ventilation/Air Conditioning Chilled beam system
50 Heating Chilled beam and space radiators fed by University Combined Heat and Power system
51 Lighting Intelligent
52 Acoustics Features, eg tiles, absorb sound
53 Lifts, elevators, escalators 3 lifts, to be upgraded at end of project
54 Book transportation system No. 2 3M Book return sorters
55 Theft detection Boon Edam
56 Building management system BEMS centralled controlled by University Estates and Building
57 Type of IT infrastructure All building wireless enabled. Wiring is Cat 6 in raised floor
58 Other Original static shelving reused, braced and with new acrylic pastel coloured shelf ends 2 offsite stores created, one permanent, one for duration of project.

Schedule Of The Building Process

59 Planning, preliminary brief 2003 - 2005
60 Architectural competition No competition. Design Team procured 2005 through OJEU based of cost quality assessment
61 Period of project No
62 Opening of the construction work April 2007
63 Conclusion of the construction April 2007 - January 2013, 7 sections
64 Furnishing and moving the collections Ongoing, with move management managed by Thomson Bethune. Major staff decants 2007-date. Two offsite stores created as part of project—one will be required permanently, one as decant store.
65 Opening of the new building for public Ongoing, first phase opened August 2008, Ground Floor opened June 2009. 7 floors now completed with Lower Ground Floor to be completed in January 2013

Costs (Including Taxes)

66 Site n/a
67 Building £37 million
68 Furniture and equipment £2.9 million
69 Fees £11 million Decant costs £5.6 million
70 Total £58 million
71 Operating costs
72 Funding (Type of commission and source of funding)

Publications & Awards

Project Website
Project has website with full information at
£60m library upgrade
Ian Rankin opens library upgrade

Plans & Photos