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University of London Library

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0096 UoL/UL
Held at: Senate House Library, University of London
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Full title: University of London Library
Date(s): 1901-1989
Level of description: Subfonds of the University of London
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Extent: 122 volumes, 321 bundles, 4 single sheets, 8 files, 1 envelope, 52 boxes
Name of creator(s): University of London | University of London Library
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

In 1871 Sir Julian Goldsmid gave 1000 to the University of London so that it could establish, 'a first class University Library, which....will not only improve the position of the university, but also will be of great service to its students and graduates.' In the same year the library received 4000 volumes from Baron Overstone and a further 7000 volumes on the death of the classical historian, George Grote. In 1871 the Library Committee was appointed to devise regulations for the Library's use and to direct the Registrar to have a catalogue compiled. In 1873 the Treasury agreed to give the Library 100 per year to pay for the maintenance of the library.

The University of London Library was formally opened to readers in 1877. In 1879 the library of the British Association was presented and in 1880 the Library received a collection of Russian books from the widow of Sir John Shaw-Levre. At the reconstitution of the University of London in 1900 the library was moved from Burlington Gardens to South Kensington.

In 1901 the Company of Goldsmiths purchased Professor Foxwell's library of economic literature, some 30,000 volumes, and presented it to the University Library in 1903. This gift doubled the size of the collection. Mr L W Haward was appointed Goldsmith's Librarian in 1905. Reginald Rye succeeded him in 1906, and remained in the post until 1944.

In 1910 the Travelling Libraries began, when at the request of the Library Committee (from 1973, University Library Board) to promote the extension of University teaching, the University Library agreed to accommodate a small collection of books for issue to Tutorial Class students. Collectively known as the Travelling Libraries it was renamed the Extra Mural Library in 1955. It continued to be administered by the University Library until 1975 when it became a separate unit of the Central Library Services under the control of the Library Resources Co-ordinating Committee. In August 1981 the Extra Mural Library became part of the Department of Extra Mural Studies.

The Library grew at a tremendous rate before the Second World War. In 1924 a music library was established. The Teachers Guild of Great Britain presented the Library of R H Quick in 1929 and in 1931 the Library received the Durning-Lawrence Library. The Harry Price Collection was put on deposit in 1936 and came as a bequest on the death of Harry Price in 1946. The growth of the collection made the acquisition of new premises a matter of extreme urgency. When the University moved to the Bloomsbury Site in 1937-1938 the Library was given space in the Senate House building.

During the Second World War the tower and three stack rooms were heavily damaged, but only around 200 books were lost. The Goldsmith's Library was evacuated to the Bodleian and other valuable books were sent to the University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge.

After the war the Library continued to acquire collections. Notable donations include the Sterling Library opened in 1956, the United State Information Service Library, 1965 and the Sturge Moore papers, 1963. In 1952 the Library set up the open Lending Library - hitherto nearly all books except reference and music books were housed in closed stacks. In 1961 the Depository Library was opened in the grounds of Royal Holloway College at Egham to house little used books and theses.

The University Librarian is head of the Library and is served by the following Senior Officers: Sub librarian (Academic Affairs), Sub librarian (administrative Affairs), Information Systems Manager, Head of Special Collections and the University Archivist.


Scope and content/abstract:

The collection, 1901-1989, contains annual reports, minutes and related papers of the Library Committee (UL 1), minutes of various library sub-committees (UL 2), diaries, reports correspondence and papers of the Goldsmiths' Librarian (UL 3), Library Office administrative files (UL 4), acquisition registers (UL 5), lists of books in the Travelling Library, later Extra Mural Library (UL 6), programmes, posters and guest lists relating to functions and exhibitions held at the University Library (UL 7), papers relating to library classification schemes (UL 8), library catalogues and accession lists (UL 10), scrapbooks containing press cuttings (UL 11), photographs of staff members (UL 12), and exhibition catalogues of exhibitions organised or hosted by the University library (UL 13).
There are also 52 boxes of uncatalogued material (Ref. UL) containing material dating from 1906-2004. This includes minutes, working party papers, Staffing papers, papers on External Bodies, finance papers, papers on Collections Development, Library Services papers, Special Collections papers and Friends of the University of London Library papers.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Open except for records exempt under the Data Protection Act or the Freedom of Information Act. Access to the records for the purposes of private study and personal research is possible within the controlled environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Access to archive collections may be restricted under the Freedom of Information Act. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.

Finding aids:

Catalogue: Archive of the University of London, 1988.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
1999-09-01 Simon McKeon, 2006-08-24 Michael Broadway

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