The Old Library

The Old Library is a two-storey, seventeenth-century building situated in Third Court. Its original entrance, now used for visitor access to the Upper Library, is on the first floor on E staircase Second Court. It houses the College's Special Collections, which may be consulted in the Rare Books Reading Room on the ground floor. Access to the Reading Room is via the Working Library.

Read more about the history of the Old Library.

Opening times

The Old Library and Rare Books Reading Room are staffed Monday to Friday 9am-1pm and 2pm-5pm, with appointments to consult material available 10-12.30 and 2-4.30. They are closed Christmas Eve to New Year's Day, Good Friday to Easter Monday, and on August Bank Holiday.


All those wishing to consult material from the Old Library should arrange an appointment in advance via the Special Collections email address, or by telephoning the Special Collections on 01223 339393, indicating the material they wish to consult. All readers will be asked to complete a reader form and new readers will be required to show identification upon arrival. Our Special Collections may only be consulted in the Rare Books Reading Room under the supervision of a member of staff.

Visits to the Old Library for individuals or groups with a specialist/research interest in the history of the building or its collections may be arranged during staffed hours by advance appointment with the Special Collections Librarian. The Old Library is open to the public on several days throughout the year with themed exhibitions in conjunction with University Festivals. The Upper Library is open for College members every Wednesday afternoon from 2pm to 4pm during Full Term with displays of interesting items from the Special Collections. Entry is via E staircase Second Court. Members of College who wish to bring guests to see the historic library at other times should contact the Sub-Librarian in advance to arrange this. While every effort will be made to accommodate visits, this is dependent on staff availability.


The Rare Books Reading Room has desk space for eight readers and houses a collection of catalogues and bibliographical reference books. The room offers wireless connectivity and readers are welcome to bring their own laptops. Photography may be permitted at the discretion of the Special Collections staff.