Blue plaque to honour University's first Librarian


Fanny Passavant, the first Librarian of the University Of Leeds, has been honoured with the unveiling of a blue plaque.

Ms Passavant was appointed Librarian of the Yorkshire College of Science in 1884, and became the first Librarian of the University on its establishment in 1904. She retired in 1919, aged 70.

At the time, no other university had a female Librarian.

The plaque has been placed on a wall of the Great Hall, part of the Baines Wing, where the original University library was located.

Fanny Passavant is an important part of our history and it is wonderful to honour her today.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Simone Buitendijk

Unveiling the plaque yesterday, Vice-Chancellor Professor Simone Buitendijk said: “Fanny Passavant is an important part of our history and it is wonderful to honour her today.

“Her energy and commitment led to the establishment of an important collection of books, and that has been built on by successive generations to form the world-class facilities now on offer to students, with libraries across the campus.”

There are four libraries on the main University campus, along with two public galleries displaying rare items and artworks and an off-campus library at St James's Hospital.


Leeds Civic Trust has been installing blue plaques across the city since 1987, commemorating people, events and buildings.

Trust Director, Martin Hamilton said: “We are delighted to honour Fanny Passavant with a blue plaque. She grew  the library from a small collection of books in a room to a significant library by the time she retired. The origins of the extensive library facilities that we see today are in no small part due to her librarianship.”

Further information

Main photo, from left: University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection Masud Khokhar; Vice-Chancellor Professor Simone Buitendijk; Leeds Civic Trust Chair Jane Taylor; Leeds Civic Trust Director Martin Hamilton.

For more information, the Press Office at the University of Leeds by email on