Magdalene community comes together to fund award-winning New Library

Magdalene community comes together to fund award-winning New Library

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    Central Reading Room
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    The Andrew and Catherine Fischer Room
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    The Sultan Nazrin Sha Room
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    The Wigglesworth Law Library
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Magdalene College celebrated the official opening of its award-winning New Library earlier this summer. Funded entirely by donations from Members and Friends, the library has been transformational in its impact on College life and is much-loved by students, staff and all who visit.  

The College is enormously grateful for the wonderful support of its global community with 37% of College Members making at least one gift to the Future Foundations Campaign. 

Dr Rowan Williams, Master, 2013-2020

The College’s most ambitious fundraising endeavour in living memory, the Future Foundations Campaign, launched in March 2017 with an ambitious target of raising £25 million to construct a new library and raise much-needed funds to support undergraduate and postgraduate bursaries. Despite all the challenges along the way, the global College community came together to raise just under £30 million in five years.

The vision and the work behind the scenes began long before the Campaign publicly launched in 2017. Duncan Robinson, Master from 2002-2012, was the first to publicly put forward the idea of a new library at Magdalene and Dr Rowan Williams, Master from 2013-2020, spent much of his time impressing the merits of this most ambitious project on the Magdalene community. The current Master, Sir Christopher Greenwood, has had the pleasure of celebrating the official opening of the New Library with the College community.

When asked about the success of the Campaign and the New Library, former Master, Dr Rowan Williams said:

“When the challenge was first put to me about the library, it seemed like a heaven-sent opportunity to flesh out the vision a bit further. It should be a new and much-needed workspace but also an art gallery, a place to socialise, and not least, a building that is comfortable, graceful and human-sized.

I found myself saying quite often, ‘We don’t need an award-winning building’ — meaning that we shouldn’t be looking for something that architects thought spectacular. We should be looking for a building that expressed and ‘housed’ the values we cared about at Magdalene — a College which has always prided itself on its human scale and intimate proportions.

The wonderful irony, of course, is that we now have an award-winning building! Award-winning for all the right reasons, because of its gracefulness and space and harmony with its surroundings. It has been such a privilege to be involved in this project. 

The New Library has surpassed our expectations. I am confident it will be a key element in keeping our College alive to its priorities — human and academic alike.”

The College is enormously grateful for the wonderful support of its global community with 37% of College Members making at least one gift to the Future Foundations Campaign. 

Speaking about the success of the campaign and the New Library, Master, Sir Christopher Greenwood said:

“The remarkable generosity shown by so many of our alumni and other benefactors meant that by the time I arrived in October 2020, the New Library was almost complete.

The pandemic delayed the practical opening to our students until May 2021 and the formal opening until July 2022. Yet the pandemic also provided a powerful endorsement of the vision of my two predecessors to build the New Library. Not only did we end up with one of the finest libraries in Cambridge, but the pandemic brought home to me how important the New Library is in rebuilding the Magdalene community after the months of isolation. As soon as students were able, they went there in large numbers, not only because it was a great place to work, but because it provided an environment where they could study together.

I have seen the enthusiasm with which our students have headed to the New Library to work together, whether in the study rooms where they can discuss their work or at the long tables where silence and companionship go hand in hand. Much as I am delighted by the accolades that the New Library has won — and continues to win from the architectural community, the plaudits it receives from our students mean even more.”

New Library Awards and Achievements


If you would like to find out how to support Magdalene College, please contact:

Corinne Lloyd

Director of Development and Fellow

+44 (0)1223 332160

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Philanthropic giving is at the heart of the success of the Collegiate University, enabling us to make discoveries that change the world and to ensure that our students receive an unrivalled education. Cambridge owes its world-leading excellence in research and teaching to the generosity of its supporters. Our history is synonymous with a history of far-sighted benefaction, and the same is as true today as it has ever been.