Visit to Christ’s College Library, Emily Delahaye

This is part of a series of blog posts on the recent trip to Cambridge that we organised. On the 17th of May, we got up very early in the morning, to board the X5 from Oxford to Cambridge, in order to meet up with the Cambridge University Library Trainees! After what felt like a million roundabouts in Milton Keynes, we arrived and promptly went to Tatties Café, so that we could get a caffeine boost for a day full of walking and touring.

I am going to talk about the library at Christ’s College, where the lovely trainee Lucy gave us a tour and discussed what it was like to work in the college. As we were visiting during exam time, we had to be very quiet! Lucy told us about how the library staff were trying to support the students as much as possible – one of the ways they are doing this is through ‘Squash O’clock’. Every day at 3.30pm the librarians ring a bell to let students know that they have laid out squash and biscuits for them to come and enjoy. This seems like a great way to help with exam stress!

Students can use the facilities 24/7, and borrow books for two weeks. The library caters to the courses taught at Christ’s, with the aim to have all of the required texts for undergraduates. Similarly to other college libraries that I have visited, the library also has a more general interest collection – this includes fiction, travel guides and DVDS.

Christ’s College Library is also special in that it also has one of the largest collections of sheet music in Cambridge that students are able to borrow. One of the most unusual things that students can also borrow is a skeleton, to help with studying anatomy!


The Old Library at Christ's College
The Old Library at Christ’s College

After visiting the working library of Christ’s, Lucy then took us into the Old Library. This dates back to 1505, when the college was founded by Lady Margaret Beaufort. Famous alumni of Christ’s College include Charles Darwin and John Milton – the library owns items linked to them, such as first editions of On the Origin of Species and Paradise Lost. It was amazing to be able to see some of the treasures of Christ’s College. In the Old Library, they regularly put on exhibitions so that readers can see some of Christ’s special items. Lucy told us about how she is working on the next exhibition which will highlight the relationship between the college and America.

We all had a great day in Cambridge, because each of the libraries that we visited was so interesting and because it was nice to meet up again with other trainees who do very similar things to us. Thank you again for having us, Lucy, Meriel, Emily, Charlotte and Harriet!

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