AN OXFORD college wants permission to improve its library – to ensure it is a ‘delightful place in which to study, work and socialise’ for decades to come.

An extra floor would be added to Pembroke College’s McGowin Library, which despite being built in the 1970s needs urgent ‘upgrading and expanding’.

Work would ensure it is easily accessible to people with disabilities and would reveal more of the college’s Grade I listed Old Quad.

A lower ground floor would be built – but would not disrupt the City Wall, which is also Grade I listed, and Old Quad.

Designers have also said their plan would ‘cut back’ buildings to allow more light into the revamped library.

Wright & Wright Architects, writing on behalf of the college in papers submitted to Oxford City Council, state: “In terms of capacity, organisation, environmental control and energy use, it is acknowledged that the McGowin Library requires upgrading and expanding. “Originally designed for the needs of a previous era, some 45 years ago, the library can accommodate 61 readers. At present, Pembroke College has 678 students, so capacity is an issue.”

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Other work will allow the improved library to extend into panelled rooms in the Old Quad, which are now only accessible to some of Pembroke College’s fellows and staff.

The building was designed by the office of Sir Leslie Martin, in association with Colen Lumley, and opened in 1974. But the university said it is no longer ‘fit for purpose’.

Wright & Wright’s document continues: “Facilities for staff are also inadequate and the library suffers from considerable heat loss during the winter and overheating in the summer due to its inadequate building fabric. There are also problems with noise transmission through a central light well.”

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The current building is said to share an ‘uncomfortable rapport with its historic surroundings’.

It has always had a ‘sense of being shoehorned into an overly tight corner,’ the architects say.

“The way the 1970s meets the 1670s is not especially satisfactory, with evident formal dysfunction, now compounded by a clear lack of fitness for purpose,” they add.

Work would mean users of the improved library will enjoy ‘exceptional’ vistas, architects say.