Why I love the UL
And you should too.
This library is the big one, with about eight million items in it. As a copyright library it’s the one you turn to when your college is awful and for some reason doesn’t have that book on Alfredian prefaces and Anglo-Saxon translations of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. For some bizarre, unknown reason. For many, many reasons besides read on to learn why this is objectively the best library you will ever go to.
2. You have to visit it in your time at Cambridge just for the experience of trying to work out it’s maddening cataloguing system.
The sheer joy and pleasure at finding a book which is on the overflow system a floor below and a hundred metres along from where its shelf is outweighs any sense of achievement you might get from the sports field or on the river. You can easily spend fifteen minutes searching for a single volume but the victory when it comes – and it always comes – is glorious.
3. It’s actually really pretty.
Designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, the same person who did Battersea Power Station, it’s a wonderful blend of industrial and gothic and that tower is just great. It’s worth going to look at just for the bollards which are shaped like books and even spin around – sometimes I’m passing by and accidentally end up whiling away the afternoon spinning them.
4. The weird 18th-century hand-printing presses.
One society in Cambridge which loves books has it in their constitution that they have to print their term card using these printing presses. Yes, it is ridiculous, and yes, it is prohibitively expensive. But it’s also hilarious. Like everything associated with the UL.
5. The porn rumours.
This is perhaps the best rumour in Cambridge. The black bit on the top of the tower is meant to house all the porn ever published in Britain. Stack of porn. Just lining the corridors. Full of scurrying librarians in long coats and scared looks. Porn, porn everywhere and not a drop to borrow as it’s not accessible to the population at large.