To avoid disappointment, an exhibition opening this week at the Cambridge University library should carry the warning sign: “These books contain no pornography”.
Despite undergraduate folklore there is no secret stash of pornography among the 200,000 books in the 17 floors of the tower, which rises 157 feet above the library. The building, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, was completed in 1934 to mixed reviews, with the former prime minister Neville Chamberlain calling it “a magnificent erection”.
The truth, revealed in the exhibition Tall Tales, is that as a copyright library Cambridge receives a copy of every book published in the UK. The tower was used by librarians to store “secondary material”, including Victorian and Edwardian children’s books, comics, dress patterns, cookery books, paper toys and board games, as well as paperback thrillers and bodice rippers – publications which they judged nobody would want to look at again.
New Exhibition: Cambridge University Lays Bare the Secrets of its Library Tower
Filed by April 30, 2018on