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Written by:
13 Nov 2018

On Friday 9th November students, Fellows and staff at Trinity Hall attended a special event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Jerwood Library. Architect and Trinity Hall alumnus, Tristan Rees Roberts gave a fascinating talk on how the new library came into being, and the challenges of building on such a small site next to the river. There was also an exhibition of photographs charting the construction process. The talk was followed by a drinks reception which featured a cake in the shape of the Jerwood Library, created by Regency Cakes.

To coincide with the celebration, a photography competition was held which challenged students to take beautiful and creative photos of the library. The entries were displayed at the event and attendees voted for their favourite. The winning photo was taken by MPhil student Yanin Naiyachit. Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate.

Photo: Yanin Naiyachit


History of the Library

The Jerwood Library was commissioned to replace the student library in the Graham Storey room which had long outgrown the capacity to serve the expanding College. There were seats for only 24 students and it housed around 12,000 books on mobile shelving. Various locations within College were considered, but in the end, an area with a gardeners’ store, backing directly onto the River Cam was chosen. The library would be an extension of the Thornton building, built in 1909/10, which provided student accommodation on 3 floors with a large attic space above.


The site of the new building showing the old gardeners’ store. Photo: Freeland Rees Roberts

The work to build the Library took place in two phases. In Phase 1, student rooms in the Thornton building were converted into the library’s entrance hall and reading room. A computer room was also provided in the attic. This work was carried out in the Long Vacation of 1995.


The Library mid-construction. Photo: Freeland Rees Roberts


Construction of the new library building began on 19 Sept 1997 and was completed in time to open in Michaelmas term 1998. Shortly after its completion, the structure was awarded £1.4 million from the Jerwood Foundation, which praised it as a “bold and imaginative conception and design which has taken sensitive account of the building’s environment”. The College then named the Library after the Trust.

The official opening took place in May the following year by the Rt. Hon. The Lord Howe of Aberavon CH QC, an alumnus of Trinity Hall. The new building has space for over 100 readers and contains almost 30,000 books.

The Jerwood Library quickly became a tourist attraction on Garrett Hostel Lane and features as a major landmark on the itineraries of chauffeured punt tours, and in tourist guides and books about Cambridge.