Cambridge University Library officials have spent six months searching for a sponsor – and have failed to find one.
The library, currently known simply as “University Library”, has no major benefactor, unlike its rival, the Bodleian.
The Bod is named after an early 17th Century donor, Sir Thomas Bodleian, who donated books and money to the library.
Some feared a “Tesco Library” could taint the picturesque town if the supermarket giant became the new benefactor.
The library is still advertising for a sponsor on its website, though with the caveat of the University’s approval.
“Any proposal for a major benefaction, including the recognition of such generosity through appropriate naming opportunities, would be subject to the University’s stringent approval processes,” they say.
Professor Mary Beard, a Classics lecturer at Newnham College, Cambridge, said that University Library “is the most precious resource in the whole of East Anglia – it’s our equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider”.
University Library is a deposit library and can obtain one copy of everything published in the UK. It also houses famous manuscripts such as the Gutenberg Bible from 1455, the earliest European example of a book produced using moveable type.
Students appear to appreciate that to stay competitive, their library needs money, but are worried that a sponsor could get in the way of the library’s purpose.
“I would have no real problem with sponsorship as long as it was a reputable company and if it meant improvements to library services. There shouldn’t be intrusive advertising or a bias in the books they get in,” said Tom Tyldesley, a student at Christ’s College, Cambridge.
Another Cambridge student, Adam Wawrzynski, agreed but expressed fondness for University Library’s current name.
“The sponsorship of the library is a good idea, as it would provide extra funding to maintain its high standard. Whatever it may be named officially, it will always be the UL to us,” Wawrzynski said.
New Hall at Cambridge was recently renamed Murray Edwards College after a benefactor donated £30 million. According to Wawrzynski, students simply “ignore” the new name because it “sounds far too much like a bookmakers”.