Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Mary Paley Group Study Room Launch 

by Clare Trowell & Sue Woods

On Friday 22nd April at 2.30pm The Marshall Library launched the new group study room for students. The Reading Room at the Marshall Library is a great silent study space for individual work and the Social Area is welcoming and relaxing but the Library was missing a sensible quiet study area for groups, so this was my first initiative as Librarian to create a useable group study space within the Marshall Library. 

It was a great event - attended by a good number of students and involved bunting and free cake in the Library Social Area, as well as a speech from me!! 

We decided to name the room after Mary Paley, the wife of Alfred Marshall - she was also the first female librarian and an accomplished economist and scholar in her own right. Sue Woods has written a short history of Mary's life:

In 1871 Mary was one of the first 5 women admitted to the University of Cambridge. She spent 3 years at Newnham College studying for the Moral Sciences Tripos. Mary and fellow student Amy Bulley were the first women to be allowed to take the men's tripos. 

Even though Mary passed all her exams, as a woman, she was not permitted to graduate. Mary was, however, invited to become the first woman lecturer in economics at Cambridge and she soon took over the teaching of economics from her former teacher, Alfred Marshall. In 1876 the couple become engaged and they were married the following year. From then on Mary devoted her life to Alfred, and became subservient to him, supporting him in his research and the publication of his work.
Together Mary and Alfred wrote "Economics of Industry", which was published in 1879 under both their names. Even though it was highly rated by Keynes and other leading economists of the day, Alfred disliked the book and allowed it to go out of print, without a murmur from Mary. We were fortunate enough to be able to borrow the first edition of the book from the University Library Rare Books department, complete with annotations by Mary herself.
When Alfred died in 1924 he left many of his books and donated much of his money to the library. Mary acted as a volunteer librarian and looked after the collection for nearly 20 years, until she retired at the age of 87. From 1925 until her death in 1944 she gave £250 annually to the library, and also bequeathed £10,000 to the University for the "development and increased usefulness of the Marshall Library". 

Throughout her life Mary enjoyed painting and produced a bound volume of watercolours, which was passed to the Library for safe keeping. We were also able to display Mary's book of watercolours in the new group study room at the Launch Event.
It was good to get such great feedback from the students about the standard of the new facilities at the launch. The room includes a managed desktop PC, a connection for a laptop as well as a flipchart, pens and magnets for group work.
The room is available to book online via the Marshall Library website (in the same way as Bloomberg & Datastream). The room is available for booking during library opening hours in term time but access to the room closes an hour before library closing time.
The room is bookable for groups of up to 5 for 1-2 hours at any one time and there are some basic ground rules which we ask you to abide by:

  • The Mary Paley Room is bookable by students for group work only and is not available for private study
  • The room may be booked for up to 2 hours (slots) at any one time
  • There will be a 15 minute grace period for each booking. After this time the booking will lapse and the slot may be offered to another group
  • Please make sure you leave the room as you found it
  • No food and drink is allowed in the Mary Paley Room
I really hope students find this new group study space at the Marshall Library useful and I welcome any feedback you may have.