We’re pleased to share more delightful memories of the Library from alumni. Some are still returning to do a spot of quiet work, and others wish they could. Described as an ‘essential-to-visit place’ and a ’place much loved’ this is every bit true in 2018 as it was in earlier decades. The Library continues to provide a warm welcome and receives around 1.5 million visits and over 6 million digital visits each year.
‘This was my favourite spot – what a gorgeous view. Those were the days.’ Penny (4th year French language UG). 27 October 2014
“I remember the Library as an essential-to-visit place and regarded it with reverential awe. There was a quiet, efficient order to the place where everybody whispered and said ‘Thank You’ even after paying the fine for late return of borrowed books! I discovered the EPW [Economic and Political Weekly] there and wondered, how come being from India I hadn’t even heard of this ‘genius in print’ before? Anyway, our course made us read and refer to EPW frequently and I think one of the gifts I took away from the Library was a lifelong addition to this weekly. There was much photocopying to be got done, the money for which was ill-advisedly given to us in one go at the beginning of the course, and soon vanished in more urgent calling (and need) for evening beers after a whole day of rural development many of us never knew ‘existed’! To cut corners we formed a little group of four, in similar circumstances, and so shared the photocopied burden. The Library was a good place to soak in the winter sun if one luckily got a ‘window’ seat! I do not remember if one was allowed to take coffee or snacks inside, but I hope this is permitted now?”
Vinay (Masters in Rural Development 89-90)
Derek helped build the first extension, 1974.
“Having completed a successful year in CHE, I started again at UEA in EUR in 1972. Hence, I was still at UEA in 1974 when the extension was started. Coincidentally, my vacation job that Summer was with RG Carter who had the contract to extend the library and I spent several weeks helping to create the new building.”
Derek (CHE & EUR, 71-74)
Many people make many different contributions to UEA but not many students can say they have actually contributed by helping to erect the university buildings! Thanks Derek.
“I loved using the library for studying. I would book a carrel overlooking the lake and set myself up for the day. Being able to lock the space meant I could enjoy lunch down in the Bowl before ambling back up to my “office” to carry on.
More recently, I’ve occasionally used the same quiet, distraction-free atmosphere to work on scheduling the timetable for the school where I work!”
Simon (EUR 98)
“Coming to UEA as a mature student with a long track record of academic failure, the library mainly intimidated me. It took some getting used to but eventually became a regular refuge. What I most remember – and treasured at the time – was holing up in one of the airless basement rooms with one or other of the BBC Shakespeare videos and a notepad. Yup. Not even DVDs in those days. Having access to high-quality performances of the plays, on demand, was a priceless resource as I attempted to get my head around the enormity of King Lear, for example. [Grateful to] Michael Hordern [actor] and the fact that someone at UEA had the wisdom to acquire the tapes in the first place. And Tony Gash [Snr Lecturer, LDC] for his endless generosity. Thank you.”
Nick (EUR 89 and EAS 90)
“Just to lower the tone …
I remember one lad putting an item in the student newspaper of his first impressions of UEA: ‘Library loos at UEA are made for lads with egg-shaped ar**s!’ The seats were indeed an unusual egg-shape.
Exhibitions were held throughout the 70s and 80s. From Human Clay (1977) to Modern British Photography (1980)
I recall one of the porters on duty, a short, older man, who would regale us in the quieter evening hours with tales of his time in the military police; he was amiable enough, but you didn’t mess with him and try and smuggle books out illicitly!
I also recall some very colourful art exhibitions on the ground floor.
Oh, and I think they had one or two books, but usually the ones you wanted were out!”
Graham (SOC 69-72)
“UEA library was a great library, very welcoming. Especially so when the book on the shelf, the one I wanted to read, had uncut pages (as some European books were bound this way at the time).
I’m sure spending as much time in the library as I did contributed to my choosing a career as a librarian, first in London, then in Solomon Islands and Fiji. My work in Fiji took me to nearly all Pacific island countries and territories, where I carried out training and provided advice on agricultural libraries.
Anyway, I recall that there were some unusually witty graffiti artists in and around the library at the time (1974–1978):
- The wit who wrote on one of the concrete pillars outside, ‘Grey matter’
- The wit who drew two squares, side by side, on their ends, on the toilet cubicle wall, with the comment ‘Balls to Picasso’
- And the same wit, probably, whose comment on the toilet paper that was not just an off-white colour, but had a distinct yellow tinge, ‘I’ve heard of recycling but this is ridiculous'”
Peter (EUR 74)
Constructing the Library extension in 2004
“I have such fond memories of revising for my finals in Spring/Summer 2004. There was a lot of building work taking place on campus at the time, and I found it provided the perfect white noise focus soundtrack for my revision. I loved sequestering myself in one of the study cubbies, or working with a view over campus from the top floor.”
Graham (BIO 01-04)
Share your memories of the Library with us email@example.com