Cambridge University opens exhibition of 'banned' books

03/05/2018 - 18:24 Published in News/Entertainments & arts

The Cambridge University Library has opened an exhibition of banned books from its Tower Collection, some of which are seeing the light of day for the first time in decades.

The library’s 17-story Tower, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, became home to the so-called "secondary material" received under the Copyright Act, which entitles Cambridge University Library to get a copy of every book published in the U.K.

Some of the oldest items in the Tower dates from 1710, with the most recent material dating from the early years of the 21st century.

The access to the collections has been limited to a handful of library staff, researchers and academics, with the majority of its hundreds of thousands books remaining unopened, according to information obtained from the library.

Visitors will be able to have a chance to tour the tower for a limited time, as well as seeing the exhibition.

Among the books the tower holds, there are famous works such as The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale. Such novels were deemed of little academic value at the time of publication and effectively banished to the Tower.

There, they sit alongside the myriad toys, board games, Valentine’s cards, pop-up books and Mr Men cartoons, which have all found their way into the Tower since its completion in 1934.

“Now regarded as an archive of global importance, the Tower’s irreplaceable contents tell the story of our national life through the printed word,” the exhibition’s curator Liam Sims told Anadolu Agency.


Library contains 8M books

“For the first time, we are giving people the chance to explore both the remarkable collections and to glimpse inside this most visible yet mysterious of the city’s landmarks,” he said.

The University Library has been central to the support of teaching and research at Cambridge for the past 600 years.

More than eight million books and periodicals, one million maps and many thousands of manuscripts occupy more than 125 miles (200 km) of shelving, which extends by a further two miles every year.

The Library collections’ content includes many items from Chinese oracle bones from the second millennium BC to the the latest online scientific journals.

Some of the most valuable collections include the papers of Isaac Newton, an archive of Charles Darwin’s correspondence, archives of the Royal Greenwich Observatory and the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

The Library is entitled to acquire a copy of each book and journal published in the U.K. and Ireland, which results in a rich and diverse collection providing future scholars with the raw materials for research in many fields.

The Cambridge University’s history goes back to 1209 and it holds 31 independent colleges, 150 departments, faculties and institutes.

Currently, 19,000 students, including 3,700 foreign students, receive education at the university.