Weston Library, Oxford, UK

Wilkinson Eyre
Date Built
Completed 2015
The Broad
Oxford University's New Bodleian Library, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott and completed in 1940, has undergone a £50M transformation to a design by Wilkinson Eyre.  The Library says of this project that, "... The design set forward by Wilkinson Eyre Architects for the building's renovation, which commenced in 2011, aimed to respect the building's heritage while modernising its infrastructure and providing better facilities for students and researchers, as well as greater opportunities for collaboration and outreach with the wider community."  Along the way it has also changed names and is now known as the Weston Library to reflect a major financial donation to the project by Garfield Weston.

The exterior of the building looks much the same although, in addition to being much cleaner, Wilkinson Eyre have opened up the side facing The Broad to provide a welcoming public entrance ...

... and a series of shallow steps that are already attracting people who use them to eat lunch or just sit in the sun.

Wilkinson Eyre say of their work on the library that, "...In 2006 Wilkinson Eyre was appointed to refurbish the library as a new cultural and intellectual landmark. A particularly exciting aspect of the project is the opening up of the building to allow more public access and engagement in the activities within. This will include the creation of new spaces for a programme of exhibitions and seminars drawing on the extraordinary resources of the Bodleian’s collections.  The design works with, rather than against, Scott’s robust design, reinvigorating the space with an improved circulation diagram – for both book retrieval and user movement – and creating a number of contemporary interventions, including a spectacular reading room at roof level."


Access to the upper floors of the library is still restricted to readers but the ground floor is now a spectacular public space called the Blackwell Hall. 

Within the hall are a café, an information desk and a number of displays.  Leading off from the hall are exhibition spaces, a lecture theatre and the library shop.

You also get glimpses of the book stacks on the floor above, some of which are carried across the hall on glass-walled bridges.


The facade of the building is decorated with 21 cartouches that contain the coats of arms of a number of people associated with the university and/or the library.  According to the "headington.org.uk" website, these are, in order starting from the left hand end of the facade on The Broad and carrying on around the corner on Parks Road:

Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the building's architect

Sir Edmund Craster, a British librarian, who served as Bodley's Librarian from 1931 to 1945.

 Lord Halifax, who was educated at Christ Church, then became a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford

Viscount Grey,  Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1928 to 1933

 The City of Oxford,

The Stationers’ Company

Cecil Rhodes: In his last will and testament he provided for the establishment of the famous Rhodes Scholarship, the world's first international study program. The scholarship enabled students from territories under British rule or formerly under British rule and from Germany to study at Rhodes's alma mater, the University of Oxford.

John Radcliffe: He graduated from the University of Oxford, where he was an exhibitioner Fellow of Lincoln College.  He was a physician, academic and politician. A number of landmark buildings in Oxford are named after him including: the Radcliffe Camera, the Radcliffe Observatory, and the John Radcliffe Hospital.  On his death his property was bequeathed to various charitable causes, including University College, Oxford. 

Duke Humfrey: The younger son of Henry IV. He was a connoisseur of literature and commissioned translations of classical works from Greek into Latin. When he died in 1447, he donated his collection of 281 manuscripts to the University of Oxford.

Thomas de Cobham: According to the Bodleian Library's website, "The first library for Oxford University – as distinct from the colleges – was housed in a room above the Old Congregation House, begun c.1320 on a site to the north of the chancel of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. The building stood at the heart of Oxford’s ‘academic quarter’, close to the schools in which lectures were given. The library was built with funds supplied by Thomas de Cobham, Bishop of Worcester, but was still unfinished when he died in 1327."

William Laud, went in 1589 to St John's College, Oxford. In 1593 he became a fellow of the college.  Laud was a major collector of manuscripts.

William Herbert the 3rd Earl of Pembroke 1580 – 1630, Chancellor of the University of Oxford and founder of Pembroke College. The First Folio of William Shakespeare's plays was dedicated to him, together with his brother, Philip Herbert.

Sir Kenelm Digby:  He went to Gloucester Hall, Oxford in 1618, where he was taught by Thomas Allen. Allen bequeathed to Digby his library, and he in turn, donated it to the Bodleian.

Richard Rawlinson, (1690 – 1755) was an English clergyman and antiquarian collector of books and manuscripts, which he bequeathed to the Bodleian Library.

Francis Douce, (1757 - 1834), he left his printed books, illuminated manuscripts, coins &c., to the Bodleian Library

The University of Oxford

John Selden, (1584 - 1654), assembled a famous library, that in 1659 became part of the Bodleian Library's collections

Thomas Tanner:  His valuable collection of books and manuscripts is in the Bodleian Library.

Richard Gough, (1735 - 1809), his books and manuscripts relating to Anglo-Saxon and northern literature, all his collections in the department of British topography, and a large number of his drawings and engravings of other archaeological remains, were bequeathed to the University of Oxford. Notable in the bequest is the so-called Gough Map, an outstanding medieval map of Britain, which is now known by Gough’s name.

Lord Sunderlin: The Shakespearian scholar Edmund Malone (1741 - 1812), bequeathed his library to his brother, Lord Sunderlin, who presented it to the Bodleian in 1815.

Thomas, 2nd Earl Brassey, (1863 - 1919), educated at Balliol College, Oxford, he became a British peer, who was for many years editor or joint editor of Brassey's Naval Annual.