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College Library


The Library opened in 1878, the gift of Antony and Martin Gibbs in memory of their father William who had died in 1875.

Butterfield’s characteristic Gothic Revival style predominates still; from the lofty roof with its decorative panels held up by arched trusses to the exposed brickwork of the walls with polychrome patterns and bands. The room, 86 feet long has a wide central aisle with a series of raised side bays, each placed at an arched stained glass window and closed off by Butterfield’s carved wooden screens in front. Originally these bays were intended for storage, with a reading area at the far end under Holman Hunt’s painting The Light of the World which hung there until it was moved to the side-chapel in 1892.

Manuscript 30On St Mark’s Day in 1879, the first anniversary of the opening of the College Library, Dr Edward King, Regius Professor of Pastoral Theology in Oxford preached a sermon in College and made this appeal, “… If this gift of such a building is a work which few could hope to undertake, the accumulation of a library of books is obviously beyond the work of anyone, and yet it is a work in which all may unite. This is the way our libraries have grown up, by separate individual gifts, some greater indeed, some less; but the point for us to remember to-day is that by the united contributions of many our libraries have been formed… Here in Keble is a building now in which the most jealous collector need not fear to leave his treasures when in his turn he realises that he must leave to others the stones he has gathered for building. We look to all friends of Keble College to remember this…” The first manuscript arrived in 1881 and by 1911 the principal benefactions of medieval manuscripts and early printed books that form the basis of the historic collections had been received.

A student studying in the College LibraryAt first the library was used by senior members of College rather than by students but by 1920 a working collection had been established and undergraduates were given borrowing privileges. The library was extended in 1981 with the addition of two ground floor reading rooms in modern style by Ahrends, Burton and Koralek.

College Plan