During our preparation of the masterplan and development framework for Durham University during 2005/6 it became apparent that the library facilities were in need of review, and we were commissioned in 2006 to prepare a feasibility study.

The study analysed the history and growth of the Library in relation to the academic community which it serves. It considered the existing accommodation, and discussed aspirations, management issues and resources with a steering group in order to draw conclusions about how well the Library is able to meet the University’s declared objectives now and in the future.

The work involved consultation with users, development of a number of options including new build, extension and refurbishment. Comparisons were made with other facilities elsewhere and how Durham compares with comparable institutions in the UK and abroad with whom it competes for students, staff and researchers.

The resulting scheme suggested a 5000m2 extension to the existing library making a new, more welcoming and accessible entrance, more study and book stack space and enlarged cafe and short loan areas.

Having explored and illustrated several options, and analysed key management issues such as remote storage, shelf capacity and mix of spaces, we drafted the business case for expanding and improving the library as the basis of a document that could be circulated more widely within the University to justify the allocation of resources. This involved research using HEFCE, SCONUL and THES data. A final document with a supporting Options Appraisal was developed.