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Lucy’s Library has a friendly and welcoming environment and services that are tailored to our students’ needs

From humble beginnings

You may have noticed a large glass-fronted bookcase in the Library foyer. This is the Marie Lawrence bookcase and it housed the original College Library back when the Library occupied a single room in College House. One of the College’s previous librarians noted that the original space consisted of “4 bookcases, 2 tables, 3 rugs and 5 table lamps'', so we’ve certainly come a long way since then. The Library moved to Barrmore in 1976, when the Library was transported from College House in a single day by Fellows, students, their children and the College wheelbarrows, and after several years’ development and expansion – and the small matter of a new building – the Library moved into its current home in October 1999. 

A friendly and welcoming environment

Our Library is the students’ “home” library and we aim to provide a friendly and welcoming environment that is tailored to our particular students’ needs. Sometimes University libraries can feel very daunting to newcomers and can be complex places to understand and navigate; we work to make sure that our Library doesn’t feel that way.

We offer all the services you might expect and more! We have over 30,000 books on our shelves including academic texts to support our students in their studies as well as Wellbeing and Study Skills collections.  We have anatomical models for the use of our medical students, along with a large collection of bones and skeletons to support medical, anatomy and archaeological teaching.  We also house several leisure collections in the form of our Scribbling Women, Children’s Literature and Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize collections and have subscriptions to several general interest magazines such as the New Yorker, the Economist and the TLS. 

We have endeavoured to make our space as comfortable as possible and we’re lucky enough to have a good mixture so everyone should manage to find a study space that suits them. We’re also blessed with the light and bright Library foyer which we use for exhibitions and – when things are a little more normal – our elevenses/threeses, cake sales, concerts, competitions and craft sessions.

The Library Team

I came to Lucy after several years at UCL where I was Librarian for Architecture and the Built Environment. I’ve worked in academic libraries for 25 years and enjoy the variety of library work – you never quite know what you’re going to be asked! Coming here, I was struck by how welcoming the College is, its community feel and its “can do” attitude. Our students are an inspiring bunch and it's very satisfying to watch them grow and develop and to have a role in supporting them along the way.

I’m responsible for managing the Library’s services and collections and for planning for future developments, taking into account the College’s strategic plan. In practice, this can range from answering enquiries and providing training to groups and individuals, organising events, managing the Library budget, checking and ordering from reading lists, dealing with donations and much more. I also work with the Student Office to arrange the College’s MAP (Maximising Academic Potential) Programme and ensure there is a full schedule of skills sessions throughout the year.

I don’t do this alone! I have a great team in the form of Assistant Librarian Amanda Hawkes who came to us via the University’s Philosophy Library and Gill Saxon our Library Assistant who is also an alumna. Amanda deals with most of the enquiries and book cataloguing, takes care of our social media and looks after our Library management system (the IT that supports borrowing and the catalogue). Gill looks after all the book returns and shelving, makes sure the reading rooms are in order and also does sterling work with our displays and exhibitions. We all pitch in for annual projects such as stock takes and in reality we support each other to deliver services and events – we’re a small team after all.

We also work closely with other College departments such as the Student Office and the Development Office and we are also ably supported by the wider library network within Cambridge – with over 100 libraries within the collegiate university, there is a huge amount of experience and expertise to call upon and if we have a question or an idea, someone is always able to help.

Services continue despite the pandemic

The pandemic has, if anything, reinforced the sense of community and libraries have worked together in a number of ways to support students eg. during last year’s lockdown, College libraries accepted returns for the UL and faculty and departmental libraries when they were closed and worked together to arrange their return to the correct library. Lucy Library alone dealt with over 500 of these books so you can imagine the scale of the exercise across Cambridge. 

At a local level, we’ve managed to stay open since we reopened in September, at a time when many other libraries closed again for the second lockdown, and we’ve also recently returned to 24/7 opening.  Many of our other services have continued as usual – we’ve carried on sourcing requests for students still in Cambridge for instance – but some services have changed due to the pandemic. We’ve spent a lot of time this year answering queries from students who were struggling to access material remotely.  We’ve also liaised with the Ebooks Team at the UL to negotiate the purchase of new titles, plus we’ve also supported the UL’s Scan and Deliver service, providing scans of chapters or articles to students across Cambridge and beyond.

Find out more about our Library here