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University Main Library

Located on the southwest side of George Square in S Central Edinburgh, the Main Library of the University of Edinburgh was built in 1967 and is said to be one of the finest buildings of its type in Europe. Extending to 27,828 sq. m (299,538 sq. feet), it cost £2 million and was the work of J. Hardie Glover and Andrew Merrylees of the Edinburgh-based Sir Basil Spence architectural partnership. One of several similarly-aged buildings, which represented the University's highly controversial redevelopment of George Square in the 1960s, the library comprises seven floors and a basement and is now A-listed. It was formally opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, Chancellor to the University, on the 1st March 1968.

The library was subject to a £38-million redevelopment programme 2008-12 by architects Lewis & Hickey, including the provision of hi-tech group study-pods. The refurbished library was opened by crime-writer Ian Rankin (b.1960), a graduate of Edinburgh in English literature and language in 1985.

The University of Edinburgh Library began with 276 volumes bequeathed by the Advocate Clement Litill to the Toun and Kirk of Edinburgh in 1580. For two centuries, the Playfair Library in Old College provided the university's principal library. The current building now contains 2 million volumes, three times the number when it opened in 1967.


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