Tuesday 7 May 2013

Visit to the Faculty of Architecture & History of Art

It seems to me that libraries are everywhere in Cambridge, and it never ceases to surprise me when I discover a new one hidden seemingly in plain sight. The Faculty of Architecture and History of Art houses one such library, tucked away in an elegant Victorian terrace just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of Trumpington Road.

Susanne Jennings provided us with an introduction to the library, which is split into two very distinctive floors. We began our tour on the ground floor of the library, which is very charming and traditional in style, with beautiful original moulded ceilings. Tanya Zhimbiev led us through this floor of the building, pointing out interesting pieces of antique furniture which still see everyday use. Works by local artists are on display in the foyer of the library, connecting the faculty with the wider Cambridge community. We were then shown some wonderful selections from the Maurice Webb Collection of rare books by Matthew Patmore.

The basement of the Faculty of Architecture and History of Art Library is, in contrast, distinctly utilitarian. Designed primarily to maximise storage space, it is remarkable to see just how many shelves have been squeezed into what was once a caretaker’s flat. Every nook and cranny is filled with books, and a small RIBA-maintained library of products, standards and services sits tucked away in a corner.

We were given time at the end of the tour to explore the library and chat amongst ourselves. It was a very enjoyable trip and I very much appreciated the opportunity to discover another of Cambridge’s unique libraries.

YiWen Hon, Graduate Library Trainee at St John's College