Iris de Freitas refurbishment details

We’ve just received a summary of the many improvements being made in the Iris de Freitas room in the Hugh Owen Library – we hope you’re as excited as we are!

There will be:
• 44 study desks, each with their own PC. Two of these will be height adjustable
• 140 desk spaces, with two of these also to be height adjustable
• 21 “relaxed” seats, many with adjacent laptop tables

• 3 bookable group study rooms, with a 30-person total capacity, each with a large screen PC, large table and whiteboard (GSR 6 seats 8, GSR 7 seats 8, and GSR 8 seats 12)
• 2 bookable study carrels, with two spaces each (four total), one PC and whiteboard in each, and height-adjustable desks
• The Hermann Ethé room will have a teaching podium, flexible seating, a noticeboard and a large whiteboard. The capacity will be 20 seats for structured learning, and first-come, first-served at other times

• Mobile glass whiteboards for use throughout the space
• 2 printers/copiers
• Vending machines, including a water refill station, a snacks machine and a hot drinks machine
• Access to gender neutral toilets

• An increased number of power points and Wi-Fi coverage
• Heating system overhauled, for warmer all-nighters!
• New windows have been installed to conserve heat and reduce glare. These windows also incorporate a built-in ventilation system, where the vents will open and close automatically as conditions dictate.
• A new ceiling has been built to help stop heat loss. The ceiling also incorporates a new LED lighting system that adjusts in the main areas to save energy. This is manually adjustable in study rooms.
• New flooring and complete redecoration throughout
• The area is now accessible, due to the installation of a new lift to this level.

Here are some images of what the space will look like after all the work has been done, and photos of the recently installed windows and flooring. Please let us know if you have any comments!

the new windows, tinted and heat reflective
The shiny new windows! Tinted and heat-reflective to reduce glare and save energy
architect sketch of the fixtures and lights
Sketch of the relaxed area
architect sketch of the fixtures and lights
Some of the design features
the relaxed seating area
The relaxed seating
architect's sketch of iris de freitas from the corner
View from the corner
architect's sketch of the room from above
View from above
architect's sketch of the room from above
A bird’s eye view
wooden design features
Design features
new flooring and windows
Brand new flooring and windows

Iris de Freitas refurbishment update August 2019

The Iris de Freitas room is coming along nicely, the new windows having recently been installed. The windows facing West (on the front of the building) are tinted and heat-reflecting, which will make the room a more comfortable space for all. It’s planned to be reopened in November, and we’re all very excited to see the changes!

new windows delivered, ready to unpack
The new windows, waiting to be unpacked
empty space where the new windows will go
Ready for the new windows to go in
From outside, the East-facing windows are to go in next
You can see some of the new windows looking through the building (we should have more photos for our next post)

Hugh Owen Library building work update on the Iris de Freitas room June 2019

Good progress is being made on the refurbishment of the Iris de Freitas room on Level E of the Hugh Owen Library over the summer. As of 26 June 2009:

    • the room is cleared ready for 3 new bookable group study rooms
    • acoustic baffles on the ceiling are being installed to reduce noise in this area
    • new energy efficient LED lighting is planned
    • builders will be taking out and replacing all windows in the coming weeks
    Ystafell Iris de Freitas room
    Photos of the refurbishment after the demolition phase – as of June 26 2019
    Ystafell Iris de Freitas room
    Photos of the refurbishment after the demolition phase – as of June 26 2019
    Ystafell Iris de Freitas room
    Photos of the refurbishment after the demolition phase – as of June 26 2019
    Ystafell Iris de Freitas room
    Photos of the refurbishment after the demolition phase – as of June 26 2019
    Ystafell Iris de Freitas room
    Photos of the refurbishment after the demolition phase – as of June 26 2019
    Ystafell Iris de Freitas room
    Photos of the refurbishment after the demolition phase – as of June 26 2019

Iris de Freitas refurbishment, Hugh Owen Library: area now closed from 29th May 2019

To prepare for refurbishment work on the Iris de Freitas and Hermann Ethe rooms on Level E of the Hugh Owen Library during summer/autumn 2019, this area will now be closed to users from 13:00 on Wednesday 29th May after the final exam has taken place. We expect to re-open the space on the 4th November 2019. More information is available at

We are now undertaking work on the ceiling

Dear students and staff,

We hope that you all settled well in the new academic year. You might have wondered why recently the library was noisier than usual. The reason for all the disruptive drilling noise in the library is that our crew has now started working on the ceiling. They will be carrying these works over the coming two weeks. We apologise for the disruption, the noise will lessen as soon as work moves to more decorative finishing touches.

We are working towards making our Library a modern and comfortable place to study, with the very best facilities and learning resources. Let’s now take a look at what is currently happening on Level D:


  • This will be your refreshment area, where you can socialize and have a cup of tea!

  • Currently, we are installing the drop ceiling in there.

  • Looking from the refreshment area we can see the cleaning up ready for ceiling grid and the new doorway on the left.

  • Apart from the ceiling we are also working on preparing the floor for our new carpets.

  • Completing interior walls for staffing area.

  • And font door new lobby frame.


We are grateful for your patience and hope you look forward Level D to be re-open in January 2018.

We will update you soon, keep checking our blog for the latest refurbishment news!

Anna and Arfon

Information Services have the best colleagues :)

The refurbishment has brought a lot of disruption to Information Services colleagues and they’ve all been so supportive and cooperative in accommodating the refurbishment works. Whether its storing bits of furniture in their offices, cwtching up to make space for colleagues temporarily displaced from Level D or losing the staff tea room for the duration of the works, they have been fantastic. Thank you all.
Here are some of them making do in our temporary, makeshift tea room.

Why is Hugh Owen Library Level D being refurbished?

Recent feedback to the library from students and staff at AU:

  • “I strongly believe the Hugh Owen Library should be completely redone. Ideally from the inside and outside.”
  • “[would like to see more] Group (non-silent) study areas, with computers. Definition between silent and non-silent study areas. More rooms like the joy welch room that can be booked. Also [more] bathrooms […]”
  • “[would like to see more] Improvement in creating a lighter and brighter library.”

As a result of feedback from library users and the obvious need to update an outdated building, Information Services (I.S.) proposed a £2M refurbishment of the Hugh Owen Library over a 4 financial year period, 4 tranches of £500k. The first phase of the work being Level D over 2 financial years (2016-17 – 2017-18), with Level E & F taking the remaining 2 years of the project.

As a key service in the University throughout the year, it is paramount that the library remains operational throughout the refurbishments and it was agreed that we would start first with the main reception area of the Library on Level D.

Drivers for the project include:

  • From regular student feedback, there is a clear requirement to maximise, update and improve appropriate student study spaces on Level D. The space currently feels significantly dated and is no longer meeting user and staff needs. 
  • The space for staff working on Level D is cramped and the current layout means those not timetabled to work on the enquiry desk remain on view to users. This results in frequent interruptions to staff and a poor experience for users who may perceive they are being ignored by these staff. 
  • While I.S. scored very well in the ‘We Are Aber’ survey, our poorest score was the “The department has visually appealing facilities and/or materials” question for which we scored a 56.7% satisfaction rate; all other I.S. scores were in the 70% – 86% range. 
  • Evidence from the sector indicates the high importance of library and information resources to both student satisfaction and student recruitment. See and
  • Improving the space and services on Level D, as the Library entrance area and location of the Library and IT Enquiry Desk, would have the greatest impact on current students and is additionally our shop window for prospective students.

Our plans for Level D include:

  • Reconfigure the layout to improve the flow through the building and user access to facilities and services. This will include moving the main library entrance to face onto the Piazza. 
  • Open up and repurpose some of the existing ‘back of house’ areas to provide additional user space. This will include a vending area, additional bookable group study rooms, student toilet facilities and seating for computers and individual and group study.
  • Improve the lighting, heating and ventilation to make a more comfortable environment for our users. 
  • Update the decoration and furnishing to provide a modern and well-designed space that meets our users’ needs.

While Level D will be closed during the refurbishment, the Library will remain operational throughout the building works with staff and services relocated to Level E of the Library and normal opening times unchanged. Please keep up with our plans on the Library refurbishment webpage and send us your feedback:

Hugh Owen Library Enquiry Desk now temporarily relocated from Level D to E

This week our Library & IT Enquiry Desk service opened on Level E of the Hugh Owen Library. This Enquiry Desk is located in front of the main entrance doors on Level E. Staff at the Enquiry Desk welcome your enquiries.

We have been busy relocating some book collections and services in preparation for building work to start on Level D of the library. While we have signs up and around redirecting library users to the new entrance of the library and to relocated book and services inside, if you have any problems at all finding books or need any help, please do not hesitate to ask a member of our staff.
Remember also that you are welcome to contact us via email, phone or online chat for any support or questions about use of library / IT services and resources:

Level D of the library has now been emptied of all furniture, ready for the building contractors to start work by the last week in June. This is what Level D looked like on the last day of term (last Saturday)

and this is Level D today, ready for refurbishment to start

A reminder that the Hugh Owen Library Level D refurbishment web page is at:

Thank you to all involved in relocating this service up to Level E. We’re looking forward to building work starting.