Every college library is the home of treasured volumes and cherished nooks in which to study. But there are good reasons why the Somerville library holds a special place in the heart of every Somerville student, past and present.

Built in 1903 to the designs of architect Basil Champneys, it is one of the biggest and best-stocked undergraduate college libraries in the university. Our collection holds almost 120,000 items and is enriched by internationally important special collections, including those bequeathed by the estates of John Stuart Mill and Vera Brittain.

Please see our Library Blog for information about using the library, our New Books Blog  and our Book of the Month

The Library in Numbers


items in the library


new purchases every year


oldest book in our collection

Using the Library

The main collection of the Somerville College library is intended primarily for the use of college students and staff. However, the library also contains special collections which are available to view via appointment. Students wishing to know the latest guidance on accessing the library should consult the Somerville Library blog.

view the library blog

The Library Team

The Somerville library team work tirelessly to ensure that the library’s resources remain available to every student who wishes to use them. A friendly bunch, they’re always happy to help with any question or query you have.

If you would like to get in touch reach us at library@some.ox.ac.uk or

Susan Purver Assistant Librarian
Kate O’Donnell Assistant Archivist
Matthew Roper Library Assistant
Anne Manuel Librarian, Archivist and Head of Information Services
Jane Robinson Special Collections Assistant

What's happening at Somerville

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The Somerville Archives: Digitising the Paradise of Dainty Devices

The Somerville Archives: Digitising the Paradise of Dainty Devices

News *

Somervillian Author Alexander Starritt Donates Peace Prize Winnings to Sanctuary Scholarships

Somervillian Author Alexander Starritt Donates Peace Prize Winnings to Sanctuary Scholarships

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Catherine Hughes Building scoops Brick Award for architecture

Catherine Hughes Building scoops Brick Award for architecture
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It's been an emotional day here at Somerville, as we celebrated our 2021 Leavers on their graduation before remembering Shirley Williams, Baroness Williams of Crosby, at her memorial service this afternoon. Shirley Williams was not just a lion of British politics, but a great and loyal friend friend of this college - so it was doubly powerful to hear the moving addresses to her from our current and former Principals as well as the Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Patten, in this place she loved so well and returned to so often. Today has been an apt reminder that, on any given day, a College like ours can be a place of many beginnings and endings, memories old and newly forged.
Merry Oxmas everyone! The College has undergone a festive transformation (including our first ever Darbishire Quad tree) and the hall is laid ready for tonight's Oxmas dinner. (Just in case we've confused you, Oxmas isn't a typo - it's actually one of the university's more recent popular traditions, which involves celebrating Christmas a whole month early so that you can enjoy the festivities with your friends and the college community before you return home for the holidays.) We hope you all have a lovely Oxmas tonight! 🎄🎁⛄🎅
Happy Thanksgiving! We're feeling thankful for the strong ties of affection and shared values that enable us to support each other. We're thankful that the empty college of the last two years is full of happy students again, just like it should be. And we're thankful for the wonderful, global Somerville community 🥰
It was a high table takeover last night as we thanked our amazing student telethon callers for all their hard work earlier this year 😍 We are so grateful to everyone who shared a conversation with one of these wonderful people during the campaign!
We were proud to fly the Transgender Pride flag this weekend to mark Trans Day of Remembrance and support our community. Few things are more important to us than making this college a place where everyone can feel safe to be themselves.
This year's edition of the Somerville Magazine will be landing on your doorsteps in the next few days - but we're too excited to wait to share the front cover with you.

We are *very* proud to be featuring the creators of 'Two Distant Strangers'. They are @martindesmondroe (1997, Lit. Hum.), the first Somervillian to win an Oscar; and his Co-Director @travon Free, the first black filmmaker to win an Oscar in the Best Short Film category, captured here by the supremely talented @kaibyrd_. The two directors are wearing their awards-night custom Dolce & Gabbana tuxedos which have the names of the victims of racist police violence in the US embroidered inside.

We wanted to both celebrate Martin's brilliant achievement; and, more importantly, amplify his and Travon's voices on a topic we and the whole Somerville community feel very strongly about. Racism is unacceptable, anywhere, any time, and it must stop. It seems fitting that the first Academy-Award winning Somervillian film is a call for justice.

Their article and the whole 2021 issue of the Somerville Magazine will be arriving with you soon. We hope you enjoy!
“I came up to Somerville in 1937 aged 17. Indira came up the same year in her early 20s. We were both reading history, and met occasionally for coffee in the rooms of friends. Indira made a deep impression on me. In the course of a few conversations she overturned my credulous assumptions that the British Empire was a beneficial and beneficent organisation, universally admired. Never again did I accept the values and beliefs of my middle-class and sheltered background without question. It was a salutary and seminal experience.” Antonia McLean (née Carlisle, 1937, Modern History)
Airing today at 10am BST: Mary Somerville, the Queen of 19th Century Science, featuring (among others!) our very own alumna Dr Brigitte Stenhouse. Pro tip: if you want to refresh your understanding of why Somerville was such a phenomenal scientist and feminist pioneer, you can get a quick overview from her bio in the 'Eminent Somervillians' section of our new website. Both links in bio.
Which accommodation block was just recognised as the best new brick-built educational structure in the UK? 🤔 Oh that's right - this one! Congratulations 🎉 to the CHB on winning the 2021 Brick Award in the education category, and a huge thank you to Níall McLaughlin Architects and Beard Construction for your brilliant work. Architect Alistair Browning travelled down to London earlier this week to collect the award from broadcaster and former MP Gyles Brandreth.