The Library's History

This timeline records key events, individuals, significant moments of change within the Library's history.

1919-11-25 00:00:00

The first meeting of the Library Sub-Committee

25 November 1919, the first meeting of the ‘Library Sub-Committee’ of Leicester University College, five men attended, Alderman Charles Squire (Chairman), Mr. (late Dr.) E.E. Lowe, Dr. Astley Clarke, Mr. W.G. Gibbs, Mr. J.T. Boulter.

1920-10-01 00:00:00

Inspect possible sites for the Library

October 1920, a second meeting was held, the ‘Library Sub-Committee’ was reconstituted as the ‘Library Committee’ by the College Council.

1920-11-03 00:00:00

The Hatton Topographical Collection

Mr. Thomas Hatton gave the College Library over 2000 volumes of English topographical works, including many rare books. The strength of Mr. Hatton 's collection lies in the Country sets. Every shire of England is well represented, likewise all of those Wales, and it also extends to the Isle of Man and the Channel islands, and the Border Countries of Scotland. These latter sets are of particular importance as making for the completeness of the survey of Great Britain on its historical side.

1921-10-01 00:00:00

The first students

The first students were accepted into the college.

1923-05-05 00:00:00

The College Library was opened

05 May 1923, the Library was officially opened by Lord Haldane.

1931-04-23 00:00:00

Miss Rhoda Bennett was appointed Librarian

Miss Rhoda Bennett was appointed to the post of Assistant Librarian of the College Library at the commencement of the session.

1934-07-01 00:00:00

The new rules

From the beginning of the summer term 1934, the new rules were enforced to deal with the severe problems of book losses.

1940-10-01 00:00:00

The King's College students came to Leicester

An agreement was reached between the College Council and King’s College of Household and Social Science that students and staff of the latter establishment should move out of London and share the campus of Leicester. According to Miss Bennet 's report, the King's College students used the Library a good deal during the session.

1943-08-01 00:00:00

Assistant Librarian was called-up for war work

During the Second World War, the Library lost the services of Miss Lancaster, Assistant Librarian, who was called up to join the A.T.S.

1945-06-01 00:00:00

The College received financial assistance for the first time

The College was to be given financial assistance by the University Grants Committee. The Library Grant for the 1945-46 session was trebled from £387 to £1200. A further non-recurrent grant was also awarded by the U.G.C. to help buy expensive books and back-run of journals.

1946-09-01 00:00:00

Philip Larkin was appointed as an Assistant Librarian

In September 1946, Mr. Philip Larkin, M.A. (Oxon.), was appointed as an Assistant Librarian. In June 1950, he resigned to take up an appointment as Sub-Librarian of the Queen's University, Belfast.

1951-05-01 00:00:00

The library's new extension

Work on the new building began. The extension plan was made by architect, Mr T. Shirley Worthington, F. R. I. B. A., of Messrs Thomas Worthington & Sons, Manchester.

1951-10-23 00:00:00

Professor Jack Simmons became the chairman

Professor Jack Simmons was elected Chairman of the Library Committee. The Library Committee was known as the Library Board, the Sub-Librarian became its Secretary.

1953-10-01 00:00:00

Transport history collection

Professor Jack Simmons offered the Library his personal collection of some 250 volumes on the subject of transport history. Transport History Collection was established and grew rapidly. In 1953, the total of catalogued items were 2383, made up as follows: books 1312, pamphlets 786, Government publications 269, maps 15.

1954-02-27 00:00:00

The new building opened

The Worthington Extension was officially opened in the Inner Hall of the College. The extension bisected the quadrangle of the Fielding Johnson Building, connecting the North and South wings with the Inner Hall situated in the centre of the court.

1958-10-01 00:00:00

The Library's sections moved

The Social Science sections of the Library were moved into the old Education Lecture Theatre. The Library became a University Library and Miss Bennett was the first Librarian.

1960-09-01 00:00:00

The Librarian's annual report

During the 1960-61 session, the Librarian’s Annual Report was printed separately and distributed free to other libraries.

1961-07-01 00:00:00

New librarian

Miss Rhoda Bennett retired. Douglas G.F. Walker became the new librarian.

1962-02-23 00:00:00

The gift of Flora Graeca

A notable gift to the University Library was made when Mr Charles R. Frears, a member of the University Council and of the Gardens Committee, presented a set of John Sibthorp's Flora Graeca, one of the rarest and most splendid botanical works ever produced, and still today the outstanding item among the Library's notable collections of floras.

1962-07-01 00:00:00

Institute of Education Library

The former Institute of Education Library began to receive its finance through the Library Board and gradually became an integral part of the University system.

1970-08-01 00:00:00

Fairclough Collection

Mr. A. B. R. Fairclough of Twickenham donated his collection to the University Library in 1970. This collection contains prints and books relating to the history of England in the 17th century.

1975-09-01 00:00:00

The new Library building was officially opened.

The Library building won an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects. The University Library contained approximately 650,000 volumes and receives current issues of over 4500 periodicals.

1975-10-01 00:00:00

The new Library won R.I.B.A. Architecture Award

University's new library has won an major award for 1975 from the Royal Institute of British architects.

1978-07-01 00:00:00

The Clinical Science Library

A Clinical Sciences branch library was opened at Leicester Royal Infirmary. It contained the University’s collection on clinical medicine.

1984-01-01 00:00:00

New cataloguing system

The main Library and the Clinical Sciences Library closed the card catalogues and began using the SWALCAP Cataloguing System.

1986-07-01 00:00:00

Largest single donation

During the 1986 - 87 session, the Library received the largest single donation in its history, a magnificent gift of£10000 from Miss G. K. Smalley.

1990-04-01 00:00:00

The Library appeal was launched

The Library appeal was launched to raise£330,000 to build additional storage space for the University Library.

1990-07-01 00:00:00

New librarian

Brian Burch named University Librarian. He is the author of the book "The University of Leicester, 1921-1996".

1993-03-01 00:00:00

The construction of the Library Store

Work on the construction of the Library Store started. It included new student residences on the Putney Road site.

1993-07-01 00:00:00

An cooperation agreement

The University Libraries and public libraries of Leicestershire signed an agreement to enhance cooperation between these major libraries in the country.

1994-05-01 00:00:00

The FirstSearch service

The FirstSearch service was available to Leicester University staff and students.

1995-10-01 00:00:00

The Library was awarded a grant

The Library was awarded a substantial grant by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to improve the accessibility of the English Local History Collection. The award was £425,63 per annum for the next four years.

1996-04-01 00:00:00

Drop facility

The Main Library had a book drop facility to allow users to return items when the building was closed.

1996-11-01 00:00:00

Rare book room

Jubilee fever spread to the University Library with the opening of the reorganised rare books collection, coinciding with the 21st anniversary of the Library building. This new designed area included a storage room for the thousands of volumes of rare and valuable additions plus an office and a reading room.

1997-07-01 00:00:00

The Orton Collection

University purchased the collection from the Orton Estate in 1997,

1998-09-01 00:00:00

Public Service Librarian

Jo Aitkins joined the Library as Public Service Librarian.

2002-10-01 00:00:00

The expansion plan

The University plan to expand the Library and create new Learning Resources Centre linked by an arcade or gallery to the historic original building, the 1837 Fielding Johnson Building.

2004-02-01 00:00:00

Library Chairs Campaign

The University launched a 1000 Library Chairs Campaign which was a part of overall plan to extend and refurbish the Library.

2005-04-01 00:00:00

The Library was to be redeveloped

The planning approval had been received for£25 million scheme designed by Associated Architects to redevelop the main library, 18 million pounds had been raised.

2005-08-01 00:00:00

Sue Townsend Collection

The bestselling author and playwright, Sue Townsend, deposited her papers with the Special Collections in the University Library in 2005. This Collection contains the literary, personal and business papers.

2006-10-01 00:00:00

David Wilson donation

David Wilson, Chairman of Leicestershire based construction group, Wilson Bowden plc, was donating£2 million as flagship funding towards the creation of a new Library.

2008-04-08 00:00:00

The David Wilson Library opened

The David Wilson Library opened for use by staff, students and the public.

2008-07-01 00:00:00

Donna Chaproniere's donation

These black and white photographs of English parish churches are Dr. Donna Chaproniere's bequest.

2008-12-04 00:00:00

Royal visit

Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh opened the new David Wilson Library.

2018-02-05 00:00:00

Digital reading room

The digital reading room was opened. It is a new learning space in the University library, where staff and students can create, discover, inform, engage and share with friends and colleagues.

The Library's History

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