Oxford libraries, reviewed

I’ll update this page regularly with new reviews

Contents

  1. A
    1. Alexander Library of Ornithology
    2. All Souls College Library
    3. Anthropology Library
  2. B
    1. Balfour Library (Pitt Rivers Museum)
    2. Balliol College Library
    3. Bodleian Education Library
    4. Bodleian Health Care Libraries
    5. Bodleian Health Care Libraries - Cairns Library, John Radcliffe Hospital
    6. Bodleian Health Care Libraries - Horton Library, Horton General Hospital
    7. Bodleian Health Care Libraries - Knowledge Centre site
    8. Bodleian Health Care Libraries - Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre
    9. Bodleian History Faculty Library
    10. Bodleian Japanese Library
    11. Bodleian K B Chen China Centre Library
    12. Bodleian Latin American Centre Library
    13. Bodleian Law Library
    14. Bodleian Library
    15. Bodleian Library - Old Library
    16. Bodleian Library - Radcliffe Camera
    17. Bodleian Music Faculty Library
    18. Bodleian Oriental Institute Library
    19. Bodleian Social Science Library
    20. Bodleian Staff Library
    21. Brasenose College Library
  3. C
    1. Cairns Library
    2. Chantry Library
    3. Campion Hall Library
    4. Cancer Epidemiology Unit
    5. Careers Service Library
    6. Chinese Studies Library
    7. Christ Church Library
    8. Computer Science Library
    9. Continuing Education Library
    10. Corpus Christi College Library
  4. E
    1. Earth Sciences Library
    2. Education Library
    3. English Faculty Library
    4. Exeter College Library
  5. G
    1. Green Templeton College Library
  6. H
    1. Harris Manchester College Library
    2. Health Care Libraries - Knowledge Centre
    3. Hertford College Library
    4. History Faculty Library
  7. I
    1. Institute of Archaeology
    2. Instituto Camoes Library
  8. J
    1. Japanese Library
    2. Jesus College Library
  9. K
    1. Keble College Library
    2. Knowledge Centre
  10. L
    1. Lady Margaret Hall Library
    2. Language Centre Library
    3. Latin American Centre Library
    4. Law Library
    5. Leopold Muller Memorial Library
    6. Linacre College Library
    7. Lincoln College Library
  11. M
    1. Magdalen College Library
    2. Maison Française Library
    3. Mansfield College Library
    4. Materials Library
    5. Mathematical Institute Library
    6. Merton College Library
    7. Middle East Centre Library
    8. Museum of Natural History Library
    9. Museum of the History of Science Library
    10. Music Faculty Library
  12. N
    1. New Bodleian
    2. New College Library
    3. Nuffield College Library
  13. O
    1. Official Papers Collection
    2. Old Bodleian
    3. Oriel College Library
    4. Oriental Institute Library
    5. Ornithology Library
    6. Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Library
    7. Oxford Centre for Mission Studies Library
    8. Oxford Institute for Energy Studies
    9. Oxford Internet Institute Library
    10. Oxford Learning Institute
    11. Oxford Union Society Library
    12. Oxford University Museum of Natural History Library
    13. Oxfordshire History Centre Library
  14. P
    1. Pauling Centre for Human Sciences Library
    2. Pembroke College Library
    3. Pharmacology LibraryPhilosophy and Theology Faculties Library
    4. Physiology Library
    5. Pitt Rivers Museum Library
    6. Pusey House Library
  15. Q
    1. Queen’s College Library
  16. R
    1. Radcliffe Camera
    2. Radcliffe Science Library
    3. Regent’s Park College Library
    4. Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art Library
    5. Rewley House Continuing Education Library
    6. Ruskin School of Art Library
    7. Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre
  17. S
    1. Sackler Library
    2. Sainsbury Library at the Saïd Business School
    3. Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy
    4. Sir William Dunn School of Pathology Library
    5. Social Science Library
    6. Somerville College Library
    7. St Anne’s College Library
    8. St Antony’s College Library
    9. St Benet’s Hall Library
    10. St Catherine’s College Library
    11. St Cross College Library
    12. St Edmund Hall Library
    13. St Hilda’s College Library
    14. St Hugh’s College Library
    15. St John’s College Library
    16. St Peter’s College Library
    17. Statistics Library
  18. T
    1. Taylor Bodleian Slavonic and Modern Greek Library
    2. Taylor Institution Library
    3. Trinity College Library
    4. Tylor Library
  19. U
    1. University College Library
  20. V
    1. Vere Harmsworth Library at the Rothermere American Institute
  21. W
    1. Wadham College Library
    2. Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine Library
    3. Weston Library
    4. Wolfson College Library
    5. Worcester College Library

A

Alexander Library of Ornithology

All Souls College Library

7/10

The main feature of this library is the feeling of superiority & exclusivity that wafts over you when you enter the hallowed grounds of All Souls. You see, All Souls is a super-duper elite; it has no undergraduates, entry is by the so-called “hardest exam in the world”. You need to make a special application to be allowed to use the library (but it’s actually very easy).

There are very few desks compared to the size of the library. The desks and seats are below average. Opening hours (Monday - Friday: 9:30am - 6:30pm) are the worst I’ve seen in Oxford.

Anthropology Library

B

Balfour Library (Pitt Rivers Museum)

Balliol College Library

Bodleian Education Library

Bodleian Health Care Libraries

Bodleian Health Care Libraries - Cairns Library, John Radcliffe Hospital

Bodleian Health Care Libraries - Horton Library, Horton General Hospital

Bodleian Health Care Libraries - Knowledge Centre site

Bodleian Health Care Libraries - Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre

Bodleian History Faculty Library

Bodleian Japanese Library

Bodleian K B Chen China Centre Library

Bodleian Latin American Centre Library

Bodleian Law Library

8/10

Architecturally, a resounding success. Now I understand why the St Cross Building which houses it is Grade II listed. Huge. More than 500,000 volumes. The main reading room is genuinely imposing, white and flooded with light. On a stormy day you can hear the hiss of the wind whiz through the building. That somehow only reinforces the airy feeling of the reading room. The desk lamps are of an artfully brushed metal that feels at once négligé and luxurious.

Mostly just incredibly bright. Almost like sitting outside.

Bodleian Library

Bodleian Library - Old Library

Bodleian Library - Radcliffe Camera

Bodleian Music Faculty Library

Bodleian Oriental Institute Library

Bodleian Social Science Library

Bodleian Staff Library

Brasenose College Library

C

Cairns Library

Chantry Library

Campion Hall Library

Cancer Epidemiology Unit

Careers Service Library

Chinese Studies Library

Christ Church Library

Computer Science Library

Continuing Education Library

Corpus Christi College Library

E

Earth Sciences Library

Education Library

English Faculty Library

I was supposed to meet my friends at the law library, in the St Cross building. Having arrived early, I told them I was on floor 2, by the windows, in the Mark Twain section. In retrospect, sitting in the Mark Twain section of the law library should, perhaps, have raised some red flags. My friends messaged protesting they could not find me. I told them to just walk around until they saw me, noting that this library is not that fucking big, come on. It further transpired that the law library has no floor 2.

English Faculty Library: 6/10, bright, comfortable chairs. In the same building as the law library, and in pictures looks very similar to it:

Exeter College Library

G

Green Templeton College Library

H

Harris Manchester College Library

Health Care Libraries - Knowledge Centre

Hertford College Library

History Faculty Library

I

Institute of Archaeology

Instituto Camoes Library

J

Japanese Library

Jesus College Library

K

Keble College Library

Knowledge Centre

L

Lady Margaret Hall Library

Language Centre Library

Latin American Centre Library

Law Library

Leopold Muller Memorial Library

Linacre College Library

Lincoln College Library

6/10. Housed in a gorgeous church building. Has a big-ass chandelier. A bit noisy.

M

Magdalen College Library

Maison Française Library

Mansfield College Library

Materials Library

Mathematical Institute Library

Merton College Library

Middle East Centre Library

Museum of Natural History Library

Museum of the History of Science Library

Music Faculty Library

N

New Bodleian

New College Library

Nuffield College Library

O

Official Papers Collection

Old Bodleian

9/10

A classic of the Oxford repertoire, the Old Bod needs no introduction and is located in one of the most magnificent buildings in the city. I prefer the upper reading room, which has better views and is sometimes less full. Special features: the divinity school, and Duke Humfrey’s library, both of which were locations for the Harry Potter films. The Duke Humfrey is too dark, go there to enjoy the 17th-century vibe but not for extended periods of work.

Oriel College Library

Oriental Institute Library

4/10

Tucked away on the minuscule Pusey Lane, this library is cute, homely, and unpretentious. Facilities thouroughly average. Quiet.

One thing stands out: it has an actual card catalogue! The wooden filing system lines the back wall of the library. I’m unsure if it’s still in use.

Ornithology Library

Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Library

Oxford Centre for Mission Studies Library

Oxford Institute for Energy Studies

Oxford Internet Institute Library

Oxford Learning Institute

Oxford Union Society Library

Oxford University Museum of Natural History Library

Oxfordshire History Centre Library

P

Pauling Centre for Human Sciences Library

Pembroke College Library

Pharmacology LibraryPhilosophy and Theology Faculties Library

Physiology Library

Pitt Rivers Museum Library

Pusey House Library

Q

Queen’s College Library

R

Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Science Library

1/10

The lower floors are a disgrace. They look like Podunk University built them in 1971, and ran out of money before the interior decoration could be completed. Old swivel chairs in an offensive shade of brown, harsh neon lights.

Upper floors are average, unremarkable.

Regent’s Park College Library

Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art Library

Rewley House Continuing Education Library

Ruskin School of Art Library

Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre

S

Sackler Library

5/10

Interesting circular architecture. Good for taking walks around during pomodoro breaks. Otherwise unremarkable. The antechamber might be the most impressive part. Has fucking huge volumes if you want to take a funny picture for likes on social media.

Sainsbury Library at the Saïd Business School

Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy

Sir William Dunn School of Pathology Library

Social Science Library

3/10.

Meh.

Somerville College Library

St Anne’s College Library

St Antony’s College Library

St Benet’s Hall Library

St Catherine’s College Library

St Cross College Library

St Edmund Hall Library

St Hilda’s College Library

St Hugh’s College Library

St John’s College Library

St Peter’s College Library

Statistics Library

T

Taylor Bodleian Slavonic and Modern Greek Library

Taylor Institution Library

Trinity College Library

Tylor Library

Score not available.

I didn’t know this existed until I saw it on the list. I suspect the only reason anyone would ever go there is if they mistook it for the Taylorian. (At 53 Banbury road, it lies further to the icy north than any student has ever dared to venture. It looks small and shabby.)

U

University College Library

V

Vere Harmsworth Library at the Rothermere American Institute

7/10.

Underrated. Bright and airy, this hidden gem of a library is tucked behing Mansfield college. One side of the building is entirely transparent glass panels, looking onto the Mansfield lawn.

My favourite spot are the little nooks on the higher floors. You are sort of perched up there, facing the glass panels, with quite a lot of space below you. Each cubicle is reserved, by name, for a graduate student at the American institute, but you can use them when the grad student is not there, which is most of the time. Once, I found a student’s origami otter in her cubicle. In a speech bubble, it berated her: “you otter be working on your thesis!”, but she was not there to heed its call, which I guess is a case or irony or something.

The nooks are excellent: walled off to the sides, they function almost like a mini-office; the desks are ingeniously shaped at right-angles, to give you more usable space.

Location suboptimal.

W

Wadham College Library

Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine Library

Weston Library

10/10

The library was established in 2015 (the year I arrived in Oxford) after extensive refurbishment of the New Bodleian Library building in which it is housed. The new facilities are incredibly luxurious, artfully combining old-style wood panels with pleasant, modern design. The specially designed chairs are amazing.

I especially recommend the Charles Wendell David reading room on the top floor, which has light flooding in from all sides and offers an amazing view of the Old Bod and Rad Cam. It even has a motorised standing desk!

There is only one donwside: since the Weston contains the Bodlein Libraries’ special collections, no pens are allowed in the reading rooms. Pencils only, say signs everywhere.

Wolfson College Library

Worcester College Library


Written on March 14, 2018