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Shackleton Memorial Library

Shackleton Memorial Library

The Shackleton Memorial Library is named for Sir Ernest and Lord Edward Shackleton (father and son), and forms a large extension to the Library.

During the 1990s, it became clear that it would soon be necessary to expand the Library, and a great deal of work was done to design a building that would fit into both the existing structure and the site. John Miller and Partners architectural firm was selected to undertake the design work and oversee the project.

While the design work was underway, money was raised to pay for the new library. The University contributed much, private donations from several individual donors covered more, and the Friends of SPRI held a number of fundraising activities. The final cost of the building and related work was about £1.5 million.

On 1 September 1997, with funding in place, Haymills Builders were selected to build the Shackleton Memorial Library, which opened on 20 November 1998.


This major enhancement of the Institute's Library and Archives was officially opened on Friday 20 November 1998 by the Honourable Alexandra Shackleton, daughter of Edward, Lord Shackleton, and grand-daughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton. The public were able to tour the building on Saturday 21 November.

RIBA Award

The Royal Institute of British Architecture has announced its awards for 1999. Against stiff opposition, the Shackleton Memorial Library won one of four awards for the Eastern Region.

The judges comment read as follows: "This is a well-mannered and well-constructed building that adds significantly to the collection of spaces making up the Scott Polar Research Institute. The existing building consisted of a number of densely packed floors with lots of separate spaces. The new rotunda makes sense of all this. Various nicely handled touches have been added to the existing building in the form of ceiling lighting systems and areas of display. The most memorable visual idea in the interior is the glass lift, at the opposite end of the entrance lobby of the original shrine to polar exploration. It has the appearance of a shaft of ice that has plunged down through the building. The colour of the glass surround and the way daylight glows through it, deliberately evokes the painting of ice which has been hung opposite to it.

Progress reports by Captain Joe Wubbold


View photographs of the building work, as well as a preliminary sketch and model, in the following slideshow.