Towards the beginning of term you will be given a very thorough orientation to using the College Library. Although it has a very interesting set of research collections (including perhaps the best collection of medieval illuminated manuscripts in Oxford outside the Bodleian), you will be primarily interested in the main collection which numbers some 45,000 volumes selected over the years by tutors to serve their undergraduates’ needs (as catalogued on SOLO Once term has started you will have 24-hour a day access for reference only use of the Library by means of swiping your Reader’s Card.
Keble Library staff are very hard-working, supportive and devoted to making the library as accessible as possible to all readers. So don’t be afraid to ask for their help in using the library.
This library is located on site in St. Michael’s Hall, and has a collection of about 17,000 volumes. It is your home library while you are in Oxford. You’ll have an induction when you arrive, teaching you how to use the catalogue and borrow books. The Feneley library contains the standard works and reference books required by undergraduates for the subjects taught at M-CMRS, as well as several specialised collections of value mainly to graduates and faculty.
The Charles Williams Collection
This collection of books, articles, biographies and photographs has been placed on loan at M-CMRS by the Charles Williams Society. Charles Williams (1886-1945) was a poet, novelist and theologian who spent his working life from 1908 until his death at the Oxford University Press. With his friends C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien he was a founder member of the ‘Inklings’, a literary, philosophical and theological discussion group based in Oxford.
III. Oxford Central Library
The centre of the Oxfordshire County Libraries service is located very near to M-CMRS. Although the 1970s architecture is definitely not to everyone’s taste and it can be rather noisy, the Central Library is certainly a resource which you should explore.
You can visit the library without joining it. But, once you have you can borrow from the substantial selection of general reading (including an outstanding collection of cookery books), but also some very surprisingly academic works. In addition there is an extensive collection of DVDs and (in the technically separate) Music Library CDs and scores for hire. Interlibrary loan charges are also considerably lower than in the Bodleian Libraries. )
The County Catalogue is available online.
IV. Pusey House Library
Pusey House was established in 1884 as a house of piety and learning in memory of Edward Bouverie Pusey (with John Keble one of the founding fathers of the ‘Oxford Movement’). The Library remains an important resource for the study of theology, especially Patristics, Church History, Liturgy and Doctrine. It is not a lending library, but is a wonderfully atmospheric place to study, not least because the fine neo-Gothic architecture and all the books are thoroughly redolent of the incense from the Chapel next door.
There is a small fee to join the library. You will also need two passport photographs and a letter of recommendation from the Senior Tutor.
V. The Oxford Union Society Library
Founded in 1823, the Oxford Union is a member’s club which sees itself as ‘the world’s most prestigious debating society’. Events involve invited speakers from outside, and student members of the society. There are talks from distinguished – and sometimes controversial – speakers.
From its earliest days, the society has also always maintained its own library. It differs from all the other libraries in this guide in that the collection has always been chosen by students for students with particular emphasis on English, History, Classics Law, ‘PPE’ (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) and Theology. The Old Library is in particular a wonderful place to be, not least because of the Arthurian Pre-Raphaelite murals, but also because of the leather armchairs. All members may borrow from the library, and well over half of its holdings (including all accessions since 2001) are listed on SOLO.
Membership of the Union is not cheap. M-CMRS students are eligible for Short-Term Membership.