A long tradition of generous support ...
Described as one of the finest specialist economics collections in the UK, the Marshall Library has, from its inception, always enjoyed considerable support - in terms of donations of both books and money - from staff and students in the Faculty of Economics, and from members of the economic community worldwide.
The Library itself owes a huge debt of gratitude to Professor Alfred Marshall, the founder of the Cambridge Economics Tripos. It was his commitment to improving access to economic knowledge that led him, together with Professor Henry Sidgwick, to create a small Moral Sciences Library in 1885, composed almost entirely of their own books for student use. It was those economics related books provided by Marshall in this collection that, in 1906, were transferred to the custodianship of the Special Board for Economics and Politics, and thus became the nucleus of the Departmental Library of Economics. It benefitted from Marshall's generosity again when he died in 1924, bequeathing to it the majority of his remaining book collection, and it was renamed the Marshall Library of Economics in his honour.
The tradition of book donation established by Marshall has continued to this day with benefactions being received from some of the foremost names in economics such as Professor J.M. Keynes, Professor A.C. Pigou, Sir Austin Robinson and his wife Joan Robinson. More recently, Nobel prize winner Emeritus Professor Sir James Mirrlees and Emeritus Professor Ajit Singh, have both given substantial numbers of their books to the Marshall Library following their retirements.
Monetary donations are also welcomed and, once again, the generosity of both Alfred and Mary Paley Marshall, was essential in the establishment and continued development of the library. Marshall and Pigou informally supported the library financially until 1911 when it received its first annual grant of £20 from the University.
The situation was transformed in 1924 when, acting upon the terms of Marshall's will, Mary established an endowment fund from which the library continues to derive support. The following year she also offered the library the sum of £250 per annum for the rest of her life "together with the profits from the sale of the Memorials of Alfred Marshall ... and a further sale of her husband's books". Further financial support was forthcoming with the establishment of a second endowment fund after her death in 1944.
In recent decades the Marshall Library has received financial assistance from Education Services' Bellerby Fund – to purchase resources related to monetary theory, banking and finance – and the Smuts Memorial Fund to purchase Commonwealth related resources.