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Sir Duncan Rice Library

The principal book repository and study space for the University of Aberdeen, the Sir Duncan Rice Library has the appearance of a glacial cube, intended to represent the ice and light of the north, and comprising a basement with eight floors above. The top floor provides panoramic views over the University, Old Aberdeen and beyond. Officially opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II on 24th September 2012, construction of the £57-million building began in 2009 to a competition-winning design by Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen and meets exacting environmental standards. The state-of-the-art library was named in honour of Sir Duncan Rice (b.1942) who served as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1996 until 2010.

A remarkable organic atrium curves its way through the interior. Designed to provide an excellent learning and research environment, the library holds book collections for arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences together with historic collections, rare books, manuscripts and archives in a Special Collections Centre on the ground floor. There are more than 1200 study spaces, ranging from traditional silent study rooms to areas dedicated to collaborative working. A gallery, also on the ground floor, provides space for exhibitions and displays. An events area is intended for lectures, presentations and school visits. The library also includes significant information technology provision, together with resources for multimedia and music facilities. Informal areas include a café on the ground floor and a breakout room on the top floor. Users report the atrium has the unfortunate effect of funnelling noise from these informal areas through the building, reducing its utility as a study space.

The original university library was in King's College. The Queen Mother Library was built in 1965 as a science library, but extended in 1978 and again in 1982 when the King's College library was closed. The move of the University out of Marischal College to Old Aberdeen brought the need for yet more library space and the existing library had become cramped and awkward. Hence the Sir Duncan Rice building was constructed adjacent to the Queen Mother Library, which closed in 2011 and was demolished the following year, after the new building was completed.


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