Cambridge University Library
Cambridge University Library
|Established||15th century (before 1416)|
|Location||West Road, Cambridge|
|Size||eight million items (approx.)|
|Access and use|
|Population served||University of Cambridge, and others|
|Members||University of Cambridge (and some other groups on application)|
Cambridge University Library is the main research library of the University of Cambridge in England. It is also the biggest of 114 libraries within the University. The Library is a major scholarly resource for both the members of the University of Cambridge and for external researchers. Cambridge University Library comprises the main University Library and its affiliated libraries. As at August 2015, 21 affiliated libraries were associated with the main University Library, which is often referred to within the University as "the University Library" or just "the UL".
The main University Library is one of the six legal deposit libraries under UK law, the others being the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. Although the Irish Free State left the UK in 1922, Trinity College remains a UK deposit library and the UK libraries reciprocally retain deposit rights for Irish publications.
Through legal deposit, purchase and donation it receives around 100,000 items every year. The main University Library is unique among the legal deposit libraries in keeping a large proportion of its material on open access and in allowing some categories of reader (for example Cambridge academics, postgraduates and undergraduates) to borrow from its collections. The main University Library holds approximately 8 million items (including maps and sheet music).
Its original location was the University's "Old Schools" near Senate House until it outgrew the space there and a new library building was constructed in the 1930s. The library took over the site of a First World War military hospital, the "First Eastern General", on the western edge of Cambridge city centre, now between Robinson College and Memorial Court, Clare College.
The current librarian is Dr Jessica Gardner.
As early as the fourteenth century, Cambridge University owned a collection of manuscripts and some printed books. These would have been kept in chests along with other valuables, rather than in a library building as would be recognised today.
A common library can be traced to the beginning of the 15th century, with the first direct reference to a ‘library’. In March 1416 the will of William Loring was proved, which bequeathed three volumes to the library thus: "Item volo quod omnes libri mei juris civilis remaneant in communi libraria scolarium universitatis Cantebrigg' in perpetuum."
The earliest catalogue is dated ca. 1424, at which time there were 122 volumes in the library. The second earliest surviving catalogue was drawn up in 1473, and denotes 330 volumes. From the 16th century onwards it received generous donations or bequests of books and growth was considerably increased once the privilege of legal deposit had been granted.
The current main University Library building was constructed between 1931 and 1934 under architect Giles Gilbert Scott, who also designed the neighbouring Clare Memorial Court (part of Clare College).
The site had been used by the First Eastern General Hospital, built at the outbreak of the First World War on the 8 acres (3.2 ha) joint cricket field of King's and Clare Colleges. The hospital had 1,700 beds at its height and treated some 70,000 casualties between 1914 and 1919.
The library is a Grade II listed building. Inside are a number of 17th- and 18th century bookcases including the ones designed for the old University Library by James Essex in 1731-4. The building bears a marked resemblance to Scott's industrial architecture, including Bankside Power Station (now Tate Modern). The library tower stands 157 feet (48 m) tall, 6 feet (1.8 m) shorter than the top of St John's College Chapel and 10 feet (3.0 m) taller than the peak of King's College Chapel. Supposedly, in opening the building, Neville Chamberlain referred to it as "this magnificent erection", although this phrase is also attributed by tradition to George V. Contrary to popular belief, pornographic material is not stored in the tower.
The library has been extended several times. The main building houses the Japanese and Chinese collections in the Aoi Pavilion, an extension donated by Tadao Aoi and opened in 1998.
Legal deposit library
As a legal deposit library, the main University Library is entitled to claim without charge a copy of all books, journals, printed maps and music published in Britain and Ireland. This has contributed to the library's large holdings of over seven million books and 1.5 million periodicals. Between 800 and 1200 books a week are received through legal deposit.
From 6 April 2013, legal deposit also covers material published digitally and online, so that the Legal Deposit libraries can provide a national archive of the UK’s non-print published material, such as websites, blogs, ejournals and CD-ROMs.
The library is open to all members of the University of Cambridge. As is traditional among British university libraries, research postgraduates and academics from other UK universities are allowed reference-only access to the library's collection, and members of the public  may apply for access to use the Library for reference if their research requires access to materials held there.
The library is unique among the UK's legal deposit libraries in keeping a large proportion of its books on open access and in allowing some categories of reader (for example Cambridge academics, postgraduates and undergraduates) to borrow from its collection. It has a well-used "Tea Room" in which full meals, snacks and beverages are available. The library regularly puts on exhibitions, usually free to the public, and featuring items from its collections.
In 2002 the library began a project called "Janus" (after the Roman god) to provide a single point of networked access to catalogues of archives and manuscript collections held throughout Cambridge. A widening number of participating repositories – both University and non-University – promises in due course the near comprehensive coverage of archives in the city and surrounding area.
In June 2010, Cambridge University announced that a £1.5 million donation would allow them to start digitising some of the collections in the University Library and eventually provide access to them free of charge over the Internet via the Cambridge Digital Library website. Initially the project will focus on two collections called "The Foundations of Faith" and "The Foundations of Science", which includes writings by Isaac Newton and his contemporaries, as well as documents from the Library's archives of Christian, Islamic and Jewish texts.
The official office of Librarian of the University was not established until 1577, when William James was appointed Librarian. The first set of regulations “for the Office of keeping the Library” were then formed in 1582. Little is known of the administration before the late sixteenth century. Before 1577 the University Chaplain had overall responsibility of the Library among other duties. Sixteen potential Chaplain-Librarians have been identified.
In 1721 the post of Principal Librarian (Protobibliothecarius) was created for Conyers Middleton "as a mark of sympathy with him in his opposition to Richard Bentley". In 1828 this post was merged with that of Librarian (Bibliothecarius).
Various scholars have held the position. Abraham Wheelocke was librarian of the "Public Library" at Cambridge University, and was also Reader in Anglo-Saxon in the 17th century. Augustus Theodore Bartholomew was a librarian at Cambridge University for over twenty-five years. The classicist A. F. Scholfield was Librarian from 1923 to 1949. More recent University Librarians have included E. B. Ceadel, F. W. Ratcliffe (1980–1994), Peter Fox (1994–2009) and Anne Jarvis (2009-2016). Other notable members of staff include the bibliographer Henry Bradshaw and the Uranian poet Charles Edward Sayle, author of a history of the library.
The main University Library hosts exhibitions in its Milstein Exhibition Centre. These change approximately every six to eight months and are open to all, free of charge. The current exhibition is entitled "Discarded History" and highlights some of the treasures from the Cairo Genizah. The exhibition will run until 27 October 2017.
As part of its collection of more than 8,000,000 volumes, the library contains a wealth of printed and manuscript material from earlier times. This includes:
- A copy of the Gutenberg Bible from 1455, the earliest European example of a book produced using movable type.
- Library of Lord Acton, Catholic historian and Regius Professor of Modern History in 1885–1902. The extensive library (around 60 000 volumes) collected by Lord Acton for research was bequeathed to the University Library on his death. The collection contains books from the 15th to 19th centuries, with emphasis on European history and church history. Many of the books contain annotations in Lord Acton's own hand.
- An archive of Charles Darwin's correspondence and books from his working library (including copies of his own works).
- The Hanson collection, containing important books on navigation and shipbuilding, as well as maritime atlases, some dating from the 16th century.
- The Bradshaw collection, containing more than 14 000 books relating to Ireland, printed in Ireland, or written by Irish authors. This is one of the most important collections of its kind in the world. The collection was formed by Henry Bradshaw, d. 1886. At present, the emphasis is on books printed in Ireland before 1850.
- The library of the typographer Stanley Morison, who had close links with Cambridge University Press.
- "The Royal Library", an important collection of more than 30 000 books assembled by John Moore (1646–1714), Bishop of Ely. The collection was bequeathed to the University Library by George I in 1715, hence the name.
- The library of the Royal Commonwealth Society, containing books, periodicals, pamphlets, photographs and manuscripts relating to the British Empire and the Commonwealth.
- The Bible Society library and the library of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK).
- The Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection, a store of 140 000 manuscripts and manuscript fragments, mainly in Hebrew and Arabic, from the Ben Ezra synagogue in Cairo.
- Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis, an important codex of the New Testament dating from the fifth century, written both in Greek and Latin. The Greek text is unique, with many interpolations found nowhere else. It was given to the University of Cambridge by the Protestant scholar Theodore Beza, friend and successor of Calvin; hence the name.
- The Cambridge Songs (Carmina Cantabrigiensia), a collection of Goliardic medieval Latin poems, preserved on ten leaves of the "Codex Cantabrigiensis".
- E.G. Browne's collection of around 480 codices in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish.
- Several composer archives: William Alwyn, Arthur Bliss, Roberto Gerhard, Peter Tranchell.
- Papers of Isaac Newton, Lord Kelvin, Ernest Rutherford, George Gabriel Stokes, Joseph Needham, G. E. Moore and Siegfried Sassoon, among others.
- Archives of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
- Material and archives of the University of Cambridge, from probates and graces to records of various student societies.
- Around 1.5 million maps.
- In the unfinished novel The Dark Tower, attributed to C. S. Lewis, the eponymous tower is a replica of this building.
- Libraries within the University of Cambridge
- List of University Librarians at the University of Cambridge
- Some manuscripts
- "Facilities and resources | Undergraduate Study". www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
- "Introduction to legal deposit". British Library. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
- "Committee on Finance. — Copyright Bill, 1962—Committee Stage". Dáil Éireann Debate. 14 February 1963. pp. Vol.199 No.11 p.9 cc.1475–6. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
- "Legal Deposit". The Library of Trinity College Dublin. Trinity College Dublin. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
- "From the Front to the Backs: Story of the First Eastern Hospital". University of Cambridge. 2014-07-01. Retrieved 2015-11-05.
- "History of Cambridge University Library | Cambridge University Library". www.lib.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 2015-09-10.
- Higgins, Hannah. The Grid Book. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2009. p.180. ISBN 978-0-262-51240-4
- "First Eastern General Hospital". Retrieved 25 March 2017.
- Historic England, "University Library (1126281)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 29 March 2017
- Apperly, Eliza. "Nothing racy in 'tower of porn'". Varsity. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
- Savva, Anna (3 April 2017). "Cambridge University Library has run out of space for all its books and manuscripts". Retrieved 4 April 2017.
- About Janus, Cambridge University Library
- Oates, J.C.T. (1986). Cambridge University Library: a history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 491. ISBN 0-521-30656-6.
- "Protobibliothecarius". Janus. Retrieved 2015-09-09.
- "Cambridge welcomes Dr Jessica Gardner as new University Librarian".
- "Discarded History exhibition lifts the lid on 1,000 years of medieval history".
- "Library collections – Cambridge University Library". www.lib.cam.ac.uk.
- Sayle, Charles (1916) A Catalogue of the Bradshaw Collection of Irish Books in the University Library, Cambridge. 3 vols. Cambridge: Printed for the University Library
- Bradshaw, Henry (1889) Collected Papers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Textus
- Fox, Peter (ed.) (1998) Cambridge University Library: the Great Collections. Cambridge University Press ISBN 0-521-62636-6 (Paperback ISBN 0-521-62647-1).
- Oates, J. C. T., & McKitterick, D. (1986) Cambridge University Library: a History 2 vols.
- Oates, J. C. T. Cambridge University Library: a History; [Vol. 1]: From the beginnings to the Copyright Act of Queen Anne. Cambridge: University Press ISBN 0-521-30656-6
- McKitterick, David Cambridge University Library: a History; [Vol. 2]: the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Cambridge: University Press ISBN 0-521-30655-8
- Ratcliffe, F. W. (2007) Books, Books, Just Miles and Miles of Books: across the library counter, 1950–2000. Cambridge: F. W. Ratcliffe (autobiography)
- Sayle, Charles (1916) Annals of Cambridge University Library 1278–1900. Cambridge: University Library
Descriptions of collections
- Oates, J. C. T. (1954) A Catalogue of the Fifteenth-Century Printed Books in the University Library, Cambridge. Reissued: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ISBN 978-1-108-00848-8 Extracts
- Reif, Stefan C. (1997) Hebrew Manuscripts at Cambridge University Library: a description and introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ISBN 978-0-521-58339-8 Extracts
- Wade, Thomas Francis; Cambridge University Library (1898). A catalog of the Wade collection of Chinese and Manchu books in the library of the University of Cambridge. Compiled by Herbert Allen Giles. University Press. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
- Cambridge University Library (1898). A Catalogue of the Collection of Chinese and Manchu Books Given to the University of Cambridge. The University Press. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
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