In 2007 the Library was in a bad state of disrepair and the College recognised that restoration of the Library needed to be made a top priority. By this time the roof of the Library was leaking and needed to be made watertight whilst, below, the floorboards needed to be taken up and treated for dry rot and death watch beetle. The book presses needed to be repaired and preserved by specialists and the gallery that runs along one side of the Library needed to be reinforced. Under carpet heating was required to provide an adequate temperature that would benefit both books and people and modern UV controls were also needed to help preserve the condition of the many priceless antiquities. Security of the Library was also an issue and this had to be improved if the Library was to be enjoyed by Fellows, students and guests to the College.
The restoration was estimated as being in excess of £700,000, which would put a huge strain on the College’s already stretched resources. The Library, and College itself, had been built on the generosity of its Old Members, with a long history of benefaction still very much evident in the present day. A direct mail appeal was therefore launched asking Old Members of the College if they would be able to help the College restore the Library, in what was the first major fundraising “ask” for the College in well over a decade. The response to the appeal was extraordinary, with over 840 Old Members making a donation to the appeal, which to date has raised over £275,000.
The Fellows’ Library refurbishment was finished in early 2008 and, as can be seen in our slideshow The Gallery, has been restored so that it is now a room for the College to be proud of and which does justice to the many interesting and rare volumes housed within it.