05 Sep 2014

College Libraries


Codrington Library, All Soul’s College, Oxford, 1751

The history of college library design illustrated by photographs in the Atlantic:

The division of rooms into stalls seen at Merton College, Oxford and later in libraries such as Queens’ College, Cambridge, was widely adopted in Oxford and Cambridge in the 17th century. Elsewhere in Europe the normal solution was to place the shelving against the walls. This left the problem of where to put the windows. In the Codrington Library in Oxford the windows are down one side and placed high above the bookcases. The result is a library of extraordinary spaciousness and light. The reading desks were moveable. The front of the shelves projected to act as a bench. The room was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and completed in 1751 by James Gibbs.


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