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RCVS Library and Museum Collection

Key dates

1844 RCVS was formed after the Royal Charter was granted.
1853 College moves to 10, Red Lion Square which includes a library, museum and students waiting room.
1871 The skeleton of the famous racehorse, “Eclipse”, is donated by Professor John Gamgee.
1873 Library Committee set up and a few books were purchased.
1890 £100 allocated to the Museum for renovation and the purchase of new specimen cases.
1890 First recorded donations of The Veterinary Journal, Veterinary Record and The Veterinarian from the editors.
1891 Catalogue of the Museum Collection compiled by Edward Reuben Edwards.
1909 Many museum specimens remain un-mounted and un-catalogued. Library & Museum Committee state there is only enough money to attend to the most urgent work.
1921 Skeleton of “Eclipse” goes on permanent loan to the British Museum of Natural History.
1921 Remainder of the War Memorial Fund is donated to the Library to purchase some current veterinary literature. Extra space is also allocated to the Library which is renamed the ‘War Memorial Library'.
1925 It becomes impractical to maintain a Veterinary Museum in Red Lion Square so the specimens are dispersed.
1927 The Carnegie Trust (United Kingdom) gives grant of £400 to Library to purchase text books, for the completion of periodical sets and to continue cataloguing. The condition of the loan is that the Library become an Outlier Library for the Central Library of Students and be willing to loan books to other institutions.
1928 A Library extension is approved and the space is refurnished – space for 10,000 books is made available. Library starts charging for postal loans, 6d per volume, to cover postage.
1934 Open appeal for Library Endowment fund begins without much success.
1936 Library receives £100 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the late King George V. A total of 1,197 books and periodicals were sent out on loan, the most ever.
1940 RCVS relocates most of its activities to Harrogate. Library remains in London, offering a reduced service. The more valuable periodicals are stored in the basement for safety. Librarian reports that there are disruptions to German journal supplies.
1941 Red Lion Square is hit by bombs during the evening of the 10th May, large number of books sustain water damage from the fire hoses. The remaining collection is transferred to Harrogate.
1942 Library service is suspended.
1946 Partial Library services resume – no lending library. It is impossible to renew subscriptions to French, Belgian and Dutch periodicals until commercial relations are restored.
1952 Library expands its contacts and loans papers to libraries world wide.
1953 Printed Catalogue of the Historical Collection is completed. Rebinding of the material damaged during the war is started using compensation obtained from the War Damage Commission.
1958 Library comes under management of the newly formed RCVS Trust.
1959 The minute book of the Odiham Agricultural Society, which was traced by the RCVS Registrar Mr WGR Oates in 1956, is donated to the Library.
1962 Wellcome Trust gives £17,500 to cover cost of shelves, equipment and bookcases for the Library and Historical Library in the new premises of the RCVS at 32 Belgrave Square. Library is renamed the ‘RCVS Wellcome Library’.
1969 The BSAVA donate a number of small animal textbooks in memory of their former president Noel Ormrod.
1969 An exhibition of archives from the ‘early days’ of the profession is on display to mark the 125th Anniversary of the RCVS.
1977 A Library exhibit is put on at BSAVA Congress for the first time.
1983 A bequest from the late Mr. NR Turnball adds one of only two known copies of Vial de St. Bel’s Plan for establishing an institution to cultivate and teach veterinary medicine  to the Library collection.
1989 Computerisation of the Library begins.
1990 Former Librarian, Molly Raymer, gives £1,100 towards the purchase of  watercolours by Edward Mayhew for the Historical Collection.
1994 The collection of the late Dr WP Blount is donated. Amongst the items are Conrad Heresbach’s Foure Books of Husbandrie 1586, the 1631 edition of Gervase Markham’s Maister-Peece and the 1797 History of British Birds illustrated by Thomas Bewick.
1995 Library and RCVS moves to Belgravia House on Horseferry Road.
1997 Benita Horder steps down as Chief Librarian after 35 years.
1998 Library now offers its resources to veterinary nurses.
1999 Library starts to offer access to electronic journals.
2003 Norbrook Laboratories Ltd donates £250,000 to the Library spread over 5 years to help develop its online information services.
2007 New rolling Library Membership Scheme introduced. Certificate casebooks are made available online in 12 different subject areas.
2008 Library hosts first author’s evening with Professor Donald Broom discussing the latest edition of his book and the future of animal welfare science.
2010 Work on the Library’s lower ground floor stack begins with stock being reorganised and duplicates identified. Library membership grows to 10% of the practising profession.
2011 Trust awards Lifetime Contribution Awards to Norman Comben and Bruce Vivash Jones in recognition of their support and contribution to the Historical Collection and archives.
2012 Library starts to blog.