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Christ Church Library

Christ Church library is comprised of two parts: the student (lower) library, where all Christ Church members are welcome to work, and the Upper Library, which is home to our special collections. There are the West and East sides of the library, which each have the books for different subjects - Classics and Classical Archaeology (my subject!) is in the East side. Our library is 100% one of the best things about Christ Church: architecturally, it’s incredible (it forms the fourth side of Peckwater Quad, our prettiest Quad), it has so many of the books you need (just like other college libraries) and the librarians are incredibly friendly, helpful and enthusiastic about books! The librarians are really supportive of buying new books for the library - I’ve emailed before requesting books, for example if there’s only one copy in Oxford or if the copies in Oxford are missing, and they’ve pretty much ordered books straight away: it’s a really student-focused library. The Upper Library is slightly different in that it is not a working space, except in our summer term (Trinity), when the librarians put extra desks in it for exams. (They also put up a huge good luck sign on the stairs!) Usually, it hosts our ‘Special Collections’, which are books which have been donated throughout the college’s history. They are mostly from before the 18th C, but there are one or two younger books, including some Second World War papers which are designed to dissolve in water! Our Upper Library is also brilliant because, although it is not usually a workspace, it still functions like a library - as in, English Literature & Language students often have a class in there each term looking at older copies of the books they are studying or letters by the authors they study, and people from Oxford or other unis can email and ask to see a specific book. Our Head Librarian in particular is completely lovely, and is always more than happy to give tours of the Lower and Upper Libraries to school groups and show off any particularly special books! One time when I brought a school tour group there he showed us one of the world’s most expensive books, which is a really wide book with paintings of birds for biologists, from the time where you couldn’t just get on a plane to see things. Our Head Librarian’s office is also in the Upper Library, and this office used to be Lewis Carrol’s library from when he was at Christ Church. We also have the copy of Alice in Wonderland he gave to the ‘real Alice’! So, all in all, Christ Church library is an absolutely fantastic place, which makes spending a lot of time there reading every day much, much nicer!

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