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Welcome to Keble College Library

An introduction to the working library, and to the historic collection of books and manuscripts.

Keble College takes great pride in its Library, both for its comfortable and well equipped reading rooms and for its remarkable historic collections of books, manuscripts and archives.  Its primary purpose is to support undergraduate and postgraduate study on taught courses offered by the College by providing a library service that is responsive to the needs of its users.  It also aims to preserve its historic research collections to make them accessible to the wider scholarly community.

The Main Library

Generations of students have used the fine Victorian reading room designed by William Butterfield, with its raised bays, stained glass windows and distinctively patterned brickwork. In 1981 the Library was extended by two spacious modern reading rooms on the ground floor below. Members of College have 24 hour access every day throughout the year. The main collection, consisting of some 45,000 volumes, is catalogued on SOLO, the catalogue  covering the Library collections of the University of Oxford, which also provides access to a full range of electronic resources.

Computers are available in all the reading rooms for academic searches and there is wireless throughout the Library.  Photocopying and printing are also provided. The Library has a generous budget and readers are encouraged to make recommendations for purchasing books.  Students are represented on Academic Committee and are able to contribute to the development of the Library. The Library houses a growing collection of DVDs and classic fiction.

Research Collections

The historic collections include the personal library, correspondence and papers of John Keble, one of the early leaders of the Oxford Movement, and bequests of early printed books and manuscripts from Victorian benefactors who were influenced by High Church idealism or associated with the College.  Consequently the collections are significant for research into the history and literature of the Oxford Movement and for early printed liturgical and devotional books and manuscripts.  The collection of medieval manuscripts is one of the finest of any collection of illuminated ones in Oxford outside the Bodleian.   Also of note is the collection of books about Port Royal given by H.T. Morgan in 1905.   The Library has continued to receive gifts since the 1920s but these have been incorporated, for the most part into the undergraduate collections.   More recently it has accepted a collection of plays and books on the theatre from the library of the drama critic, Martin Esslin.

The Library has a commitment to catalogue the estimated 10,000 books from its special collections online.  So far all its pre-1641 foreign imprints have been catalogued onto OLIS as part of the Early Printed Books Project in Oxford and most of its pre-1801 English records supplied to the English Short Title Catalogue have been downloaded onto OLIS.

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Bay in upper reading room

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keble students in Library 3

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