Higher Education Postcard: The university library, Cambridge

This week's postcard from Hugh Jones' postbag comes from a good library in the east of England

Hugh Jones is a freelance HE consultant. You’ll find a daily #HigherEducationPostcard if you follow him on Twitter.

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Greetings from the east of England!

A good library sits at the heart of any community of learning, and the Cambridge University Library shown on the card is, on any definition, a Good Library.

Cambridge has had a university library since the early 15th century. The library shown in the card dates from 1934. It was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who also designed Battersea Power Station, Liverpool Cathedral and the UK’s red telephone box.

It was built on the cricket ground shared by King’s and Clare colleges. This had been the site, in the first world war, of a field hospital – the 1st Eastern General Hospital – which probably lessened the issues in requisitioning active sports facilities for mere reading.

The largest element of the funding for the new library building came from John D Rockefeller – it was his desire that the building have a grand entrance which led to the central tower being incorporated into the plans for the library.

The library is one of six legal deposit libraries in the British Isles (the other being the Bodleian at Oxford, the British Library, the National Libraries of Scotland and of Wales, and the Library at Trinity College Dublin.)

This entitles it to a copy of every book, journal, printed map and music published in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Which is about 1000 books a week, give or take, and puts my book-buying habits into a much healthier perspective.

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