To the current LSE student, the Library symbolises the most frustrating stairs known to mankind, free lollipops and resident rodents. The Library hasn’t always been like this however. This week, The Beaver takes a deeper look into the history of one of LSE’s most iconic spaces.
The Library, officially called The British Library of Political and Economic Science, was founded a year after the LSE in 1896. Initially based in the Adelphi Terrace, it moved to Passmore Edwards Hall in 1902. It was only in 1978 that the Library settled in the Lionel Robbins building that it occupies today.
The redesign of the building transforming it into the place we know and love today began in 1999 and was completed in 2001. The long sought after architects of the redesign are Foster and Partners. Interestingly, the official LSE webpage on the History of LSE Library focuses on the redesign, “allowing maximum daylight penetration without problems of glare and solar gain” but carefully avoids any mention of the staircase.
The stairs are a major point of contention though. An LSELove post from October of last year read “Petition to replace the LSE library stairs with a continuous ramp?” It has over 300 reactions and 40 comments. The Beaver reached out to the Library for a comment on this but has not yet received a response.
This week, we have also covered the evolution of the LSE’s social life. The answer is probably the Library. Open 24/7 to all students of the LSE, people are always working. Wye Yew, a first year Economics student often frequents the Library during the weekend. When asked why he said, “due to my outrageous inability to study back at my hall, I always head to the library during the weekend to get things done. Honestly, it’s been more of a social spot for my common group to cry at how far behind we are!”
Marco Estrella, a first year History student said, “The best thing about the library is that at 4am you think you’re alone, and you’re not alone.”