History of the Library

From the foundation of the college in 1624 until 1709, the college library was housed in a chamber above Docklington’s Aisle of St. Aldate’s Church, which was rented from the churchwardens for the sum of 6s 8d per year.

However, when Bishop John Hall died (Master 1664-1709), he bequeathed his own substantial collection of books and there was no longer sufficient space in the church.  The books were transferred to a room above Broadgates Hall, and moved into the main body of Broadgates when the new dining hall was built in 1848.

By the end of the 19th century, Broadgates had run out of space.  A number of other College rooms had to be converted to provide additional storage, until in 1974 the McGowin family of Alabama generously funded the construction of a purpose-built library on the site of the old bath-house, with three floors and temperature and humidity-controlled areas for the storage of rare books and archive materials.

Today, the library has c. 35000 volumes on the open shelves, covering most subjects of undergraduate courses, including multiple copies of core texts.  All subject areas are continuously added to and requests from students are welcomed.  A further collection of rare or older material and the college archives are kept in the controlled areas but can be consulted on application.

We also maintain an Alumnus collection of books by or about old members of college; we rely on donations for additions to this area and hope that new publications by college members will be given.