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The duties of the Reader are described in the following extract from a codicil to the Will of Mr Sandars:

I bequeath to the University of Cambridge in its corporate capacity the sum of £2,000 free of duty and I direct that this sum be invested and that the income arising therefrom be paid to a Reader in Bibliography, such Reader to be elected in the first instance and on each vacancy by the Vice-Chancellor, the Master of Trinity College Cambridge when not holding the office of Vice-Chancellor, and the other persons for the time being composing the Syndicate of the University Library, and such Reader may be appointed for such a period as the elective body shall think fit and specify and shall be subject to removal by such elective body at their discretion.

And I declare that the duty of such Reader shall be to deliver one or more lectures annually, or if the elective body shall so determine, biennially, in some suitable place and on a day and hour to be determined by the Vice-Chancellor for the time being, that the lecture shall be delivered during Term, and shall embrace the subjects of Bibliography, Palaeography, Typography, Bookbinding, Book Illustration, the science of Books and Manuscripts, and the Arts relating thereto.

It is my wish, subject to the discretion of the elective body for the time being, that the lectures be based on and be illustrated by examples contained in the University Library or the College Libraries at Cambridge.

And I direct that it be a condition of the tenure of the office of Reader that the Reader deliver a written or printed copy of each lecture to the University Library and also to the British Museum Library.

And I declare that in all matters relating to the administration of this Bequest, which may have to be determined by the elective body, the votes of a majority shall be sufficient to determine the same.