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Our History

Our History

Meet the President of Friends - Michael Chaplin

As we all know, libraries are treasure houses: not just of books, large, small and often comely, but also of fascinating facts, inspiring ideas, cracking stories and beautiful thoughts.

The Philip Robinson Library is one such place – but with knobs on. The kind of library that illuminates the minds of countless young people but also finds the will and resources to preserve and curate a growing body of historical archives that speaks eloquently of our cultural past. This, in short, is an institution that deserves the very best of friends.

As you will see, being a Friend of the University Library confers all kinds of rich benefits, at a very moderate cost: the equivalent of a half-decent bottle of wine or the dubious pleasure of watching Newcastle United for approximately 30 minutes.

As the man said, what’s not to like?

Our history

The Friends of the University Library was established in 1955 when Newcastle University was still part of Durham University.

The first President of what was then ‘The Friends of King’s College Library,’ was the Duke of Northumberland (Hugh Percy, 1914-1988), and our archive contains a copy of the inaugural letter signed by the Duke, canvassing for members.

As the letter makes clear, the initial purpose of the Friends was to secure funding to help the Library enrich its collections of rare books, historical documents and manuscripts, as "the income of the Library leaves little margin for the acquisition of such works".

Examples of some of our resources

Past presidents