St Hilda's College
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Celebrating the St Hilda's Library Extension

7 May 2024

Friday 3rd May marked a significant milestone for St Hilda's College as we gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the redeveloped Kathleen Major Library. It was heartening to see a multitude of familiar faces – esteemed alumnae and their families, donors, students, former Principals and Fellows, honoured guests, and colleagues, all joining together.

The newly revamped Kathleen Major Library stands as a testament to the College's commitment to excellence and equality. With features including a fully accessible entrance, a renovated ground floor, a dedicated Law Library, a Graduate Study Area, and the relocated Anne Elliott Garden, barriers to studying and access have been broken down. This was not merely about physical structures but about fostering inclusivity and ensuring fairness in education.

A warm welcome was extended to the distinguished alumna, Zoe Johnson KC, and the alumnus, James Lingfield. Their presence was deeply appreciated and underscored the enduring bond between St Hilda's and its alumni community.

Zoe Johnson KC and James Lingfield

The late Reverend Margaret Mabbs was thanked, whose legacy continues to inspire. It was an honour to welcome Professor Joachim Whaley FBA, the godson of Reverend Margaret Mabbs, who shared his reflections on her remarkable life and enduring impact.

Margaret's journey from being the first in her family to attend university to her later achievements as a history teacher and ordained member of the Anglican Church exemplified resilience and dedication to service. Her philanthropy, including the establishment of the Mabbs-Beale Scholarship Award, have left an indelible mark on St Hilda's and continue to benefit generations to come. Gratitude was also expressed to Dame Rosemary Spencer DCMG for her generous contribution towards the Graduate Study Area, which serves as a haven for graduate students to pursue their academic aspirations.

Within the Library, plaques honoured the memory of Professor Ann Buchanan MBE and alumnus Tom Leece. The contributions made in their names by family and friends reflect the enduring spirit of community at St Hilda's.

Head Gardener Deborah Bowden shared her insights on the planting choices for the new Anne Elliot garden, and this was then officially opened by Zoe Johnson KC, who quoted Cicero: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” James Lingfield then reflected on what St Hilda’s College had given him, with the quote: “A philosopher once wrote you need three things to have a good life: one, meaningful relations; two, a decent job of work; and three, to make a difference.” As the audience nodded in profound agreement, James revealed this was a David Brent quote from “The Office”. James had actually written a dissertation on the sitcom as part of his studies at St Hilda’s.

Professor Daniel Wakelin, who previously served as the library Fellow, concluded with some words on the importance of libraries to both students and also in the wider context of their importance to our communities.

Despite the pouring rain, it was a wonderful occasion. The Kathleen Major Library extension has not only enriched the physical space but also embodies the values of community, generosity, and scholarship that define St Hilda's College.