There are so many amazing things about Oxford that it’s incredibly difficult to choose just one favorite. However, if I had to pick a single thing that I absolutely adore about living here it would be the LIBRARIES.
My bookish friends, I am in library paradise.
There are still so many libraries that I have to explore, but the ones that I’ve visited thus far are breathtaking. Today I’ll be sharing my three favorite libraries in Oxford:
The Bodleian Library is HUGE (there’s me walking up the front steps for scale!). It stretches way beyond what is shown in the photo above and it even has several floors of underground tunnels that connect it to other libraries in Oxford. The Bod has over 12 million items and is the main research library for the University of Oxford. When I first arrived here I wasn’t sure I would be able to enter it as a visiting student. BUT I CAN! My university card gives me access, so I can go in and casually study there whenever it’s open. Dream. Come. True.
Noise levels are something that Oxford takes very seriously. Be it in dorms or libraries, they always emphasize the importance of being conscientious when others are working. Signs like the one in the photo above are sprinkled throughout the library’s center courtyard because it’s easy to hear people talking from inside the reading rooms when the windows are open. The Bod is a great place to study when you really need to focus. It’s also fun traversing its countless twists and turns!
There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of walking through the gates of the Radcliffe Camera to go study as tourists snap photos from afar. It’s still so surreal to me that I actually get to use these gorgeous libraries as study spaces! The Rad Cam is often used as an iconic image of Oxford. It’s located right behind the Old Bod, which is convenient if you want to switch up your study spot after a while or need a book that’s in one or the other.
I love studying on the top floor of the Rad Cam because you get to enjoy this incredible view. Whenever I need a quick break from reading I glance over the railing and admire the amazing architecture and gorgeous ceiling. It makes me feel like I’m in some sort of bookish castle!
Mansfield Main Library
Ah, the Mansfield main library. Mansfield College may be small, but its library is perfect. It’s cozy, cute, and just the right size. Chances are you can find a Mansfielder you know studying there at any hour of the day. The dining hall is in the next building, which means that you can spend all day on campus and not have to worry about losing your spot in the library when you leave for lunch or dinner. Mansfield also has theology, law, and PPE reading rooms, but this main library (where the English literature is!) is definitely my favorite of the bunch.
Also, I’d like to give an honorable mention shout out to the English Faculty Library. Though not as architecturally impressive as the other libraries I’ve mentioned, the English Faculty Library has an amazing selection of any and every book I would ever need here. When I found the American literature section I had to stop myself from doing a happy dance in the middle of the aisle– the number of Faulkner novels and collections of criticism on his works is incredible.
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Do you have any favorite libraries? (Both in Oxford and beyond!) What are the most important features of your ideal library? What aspect of my year in Oxford should I talk about next? Let me know in the comments section below!