50th Anniversary of the University of Surrey Library Building – 29 September 2022

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the official opening of the phase II Library building on our Stag Hill campus the Archives team have created an exhibition of material for the curator’s corner display area by the Library entrance gates on Level 1.

Display of reproductions from the University Archive on display by the Library entrance gates.

Using reproductions of archive material, we have charted a brief history of the Library. Of course, we haven’t been able to include everything, and we have mainly selected items from our time in Guildford, but we have also included a few items from our early days as Battersea Polytechnic including the ‘Rules for the Reading Room and Library’ from circa 1916, which informed researchers, amongst other things, that ‘Inkpots, pens, and blotting paper must not be removed from their places.’

During the move down from Battersea the temporary phase I Library building was delayed due to the furniture not arriving. The access tower to the Library block had not been completed and it was so dirty that Mr Eatwell the Librarian asked ‘People to remove muddy shoes at the Library entrance’, visitors were encouraged to wear clean socks!​

‘The Library’ entry in the University of Surrey Newsletter No. 5, 12 September 1968.

The transportation of publications from Battersea to Guildford was carried out in a number of stages, with the final transfer of items taking place in the summer of 1970 when approximately 40 tons of Library stock was brought down to the Stag Hill campus.

The official opening of phase II of the Library on the 29 September 1972 was reported in a variety of news publications and praised for its design features. The novel use of the structural columns to bring fresh air into each floor was particularly noteworthy.

A selection of press clippings reporting on the opening of the new Library. Ref no. D2/202/6.

1975 saw the millionth visitor to the Library and they were presented with a bottle of sherry to celebrate!

Ref No. US/PH/2/7/9.

In July 1981 a ceremony took place to name the Library of the University of Surrey the George Edwards Library.​ The naming of the Library after Sir George Edwards was to both thank and honour the former Pro-Chancellor and first Pro-Chancellor Emeritus Sir George Edwards, OM, CBE, FRS, DL.​

Sir George Edwards and HRH The Duke of Kent after unveiling a plaque in honour of Sir George Edwards at the naming of the George Edwards Library. Ref no. US/PH/1/3/256.

This was followed in 1985 by HRH The Duke of Kent unveiling a portrait sculpture of Sir George Edwards. The sculpture was created by sculptor Shelia Mitchell, FRBS, ARCA, the first woman to be elected President of the Society of Portrait Sculptors. ​ The sculpture is now situated in the ground floor entrance of the Library.​

Sir George Edwards pictured with his portrait sculpture and sculptor Shelia Mitchell. Ref No. US/PH/2/5/363_1.

The Library team has worked hard over the years to continuously improve and develop the Library space and a lot has changed.​ We are all looking forward to how the Library will develop over the next fifty years!

To find out more about the history of the Library check out the display on Level 1 by the Library entrance gates. If you would like to view any of the original documents in the Research Room email us at archives@surrey.ac.uk