Works commence on site of new Library and Learning Commons

Visiting the site where University of Galway’s new Library and Learning Commons will be constructed were (l-r) Kate Thornhill, Assistant Capital Projects Officer; Tom King, Capital Projects Manager; Luke McNamara, McNamara Construction; University of Galway President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh; and Monica Crump, Interim University Librarian.
Feb 06 2024 Posted: 16:03 GMT

Preparatory works have begun today on the site of the new Library and Learning Commons for University of Galway.


The landmark development at the heart of the campus will offer a new, high-tech space for students, for research and for staff, with a focus on enabling learning that is more collaborative, more technology-enhanced and more creative, as well as providing access to books and information.


Enabling works are taking place on the riverside site off Distillery Road ahead of the demolition of buildings and sheds and site clearance in the coming weeks.


President of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “Today marks a momentous day in the history of the development of the University of Galway campus. Libraries are central to the life of any university, in the heart of our city and community. It is more than 50 years since the University Library was built. Now we look ahead with anticipation and excitement at what will be a state-of-the-art facility – true to our values of openness, excellence, respect, sustainability - and a focal point for research, teaching and learning for the benefit of our students, researchers and staff for decades to come.


”The highest standards of planning and engagement have been central to the Library and Learning Commons project and as we mark the early stages of the site-works I want again to express the enormous debt of gratitude which we owe to the colleagues who are leading and driving it and all those inside and outside of our university community who are supporting the development. Exciting times ahead.”


Monica Crump, Interim University Librarian, said: “This week is truly a milestone for our entire university community as we journey towards a new Library and Learning Commons.  This flagship building will sit at the heart of our University linking the North and South campuses and it will be a place for all members of our community to come together, to collaborate, to learn and to create. It is exciting for staff and students and we have no doubt that the progress in the coming weeks and months will capture the imagination as such a key riverside site will be transformed.”


University of Galway’s current Library was constructed in 1973 and sits at the heart of the Hardiman Building in the centre of the South Campus. The most recent major redevelopment in the Library took place in 1999.

Planning permission for the Library and Learning Commons was confirmed in summer 2023 for the riverside site off Distillery Road, next to the University’s Sports Centre. It will be an exciting new, sustainable, modern, iconic building - home to a library of the future. 


The building was designed by RKD Architects. It will range in height from four to six storeys with study space, including quiet, individual and collaborative areas; a makerspace and scholarship centre enabling digital creativity; the Library’s book and journal collections, many of which will be stored in a Bookbot or high-density, automated storage system; spaces for exhibitions, events and teaching; a welcome zone enabling community engagement; a helpdesk; and spaces for student wellbeing including low-sensory study spaces, a café and relaxation and outdoor spaces.


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