The Library

Article Index


Brasenose has two excellent libraries which members can access 24 hours a day. There are collections in all subject areas covered by the College. The Library holds more than 60,000 books and periodicals. It is also just a short distance from the University's Bodleian Library and many of the faculty and departmental libraries. A brief history of the library buildings can be found in the College buildings section.

Please note, if you are a current student requiring practical information about using and working in the library, visit our sharepoint site or libguide for all relevant and up to date guidance.

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The Greenland Library


Brasenose College Library 05The upper floor of the Greenland Library, named the Del Favero Reading Room (or Main Library), was opened in 1664, although it was restricted to use by Fellows of the College until 1897. It is on the first floor above a former cloister and is an impressive room with a painted barrel-vaulted ceiling and expansive views of the Radcliffe Camera and All Souls College.

The library is an excellent place to study with the light and airy space divided into sixteen bays, each with connections for laptops in addition to the wireless network.


 The History Library


The History Library holds the modern history and politics collections and is reached by a short staircase leading from the Del Favero Reading Room. It was opened in 1951 and features two Tudor chimneys which were uncovered in a fire in 1950.






The Smith Reading Room

Beneath the Del Favero Reading Room, and linked with a spiral staircase, sits the recently completed Smith Reading Room. In addition to the books shelved in this amazing old cloister there are desks (some height adjustable) equipped with power and USB ports, a cosy casual seating area and a collaborative study room containing a large iBoard tablet for student use. The Smith Reading Room holds the physics, chemistry, maths and computing, engineering, geography, biological sciences (including medicine), music and art collections.

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The Law Library

The Stallybrass Memorial Library, named after a former Principal, houses the College's law collections.     



Antiquarian books and mafounders_bible.jpgnuscripts


Brasenose holds a substantial and interesting collection of antiquarian books and manuscripts dating back to the thirteenth century. It is believed that by the mid-sixteenth century Brasenose owned in excess of 100 volumes and now holds around 2,500 books published before 1641. Many of these were chained until 1780 when a major refurbishment took place under the direction of James Wyatt.





Keeping up to date

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Contact information 
Library email: [email protected]

Library telephone: 01865 277826
Library address: 

Brasenose College Library
Brasenose College
Radcliffe Square


Fellow Librarian - Professor Simon Palfrey
College Librarian - Liz Kay
Assistant Librarian - Joanna Mills
Rare Books Cataloguer - Sophie Floate
Please note, staff will usually be available between 8am and 4pm Monday - Friday.


Connect and keep in touch with us via social media!


We do regularly post about current library news, such as exhibitions and displays, and immediate information pertaining to library matters so please do follow us!

Visit our Brasenose Library Facebook Page
Visit our Brasenose Library Twitter Page
BNC Library & Archives Blog: Brasenose College Library & Archives

You can view our recent library acquisitions on our Library Thing page!




Online resources

For current students the library provides connections to electronic resources available across the University. Prospective students also have the ability to browse the catalogue, SOLO, below.

SOLO: Search Oxford Libraries Online 


Special Collections

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Brasenose Library holds a wonderful and diverse collection of rare books and manuscripts dating back to the 11th century. Although our collection is not as grand as other colleges, it does consist of scholastically and historically interesting and important works.

Brasenose itself holds the majority of our rare books, however, many of our manuscripts are held at the Weston Library, which is part of the Bodleian.

Items that are catalogued in these collections are searchable via SOLO, and we actively encourage researchers and students to use our collections. Please do send us an email if you wish to view or research our items in more detail.

Our rare books and manuscripts are unfortunately not available for browsing or loan, but are able to be consulted in more detail for research purposes.

Books with a shelf mark prefix of Lath, UB/S, MS, Yarb, Σ, LR/Folio are contained in these collections.







The main collectionsdetail_founders_bible.jpg

The college has two main collections that make up our rare book holdings. The pre-1640 collection, and the Stamford Collection (owing to its previous location in Stamford House basement) which contains an eclectic range of books mostly dating between 1640 and the late 1700s.

The pre-1640 collection at Brasenose consists of at least 2,500 items, including 84 incunables (books printed before 1500). A catalogue compiled in 1556 lists over 100 volumes, which are still in the collection, with several given by one of the founders of the College, William Smyth. The collection was substantially enlarged in 1647 with a bequest from alumnus Henry Mason of around 500 volumes (mainly theological works), some of which are very rare. 

The core of the Stamford collection consists of bequests, most of which reflect the libraries of former Principals of the College, from the period of the Civil War, the Commonwealth and the Restoration on into the eighteenth century. The subject coverage as established thus far, is diverse including antiquarian learning, law, political and religious pamphlets in addition to both English and European literature.

Please note the cataloguing of the both these collections is still ongoing (around 70% is catalogued), and until completed the full richness, or exact size (thought to be in the region of 10,000 items), of the holdings cannot be determined.

Additional collections

In addition to the two main rare collections, Brasenose Library holds a number of periodicals that can be searched via SOLO.

We also hold a collection called Brasenose Authors. This consists of books written by, and about, members of Brasenose College past and present. The books range from modest pamphlets and anecdotal tales of yesteryear to major works such as Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

Not all works by Brasenose Authors find their way into this collection as many of those more recently donated and deemed to be relevant to the studies of current students are added to the main collection. Please note this collection is still being catalogued, but items already catalogued are searchable on SOLO. Books that are held in this collection can be identified by the "Bras" prefix e.g. Bras B 112. Please ask if you would like to view any item in this collection. A list of presentations to the library appears in each volume of the Brazen Nose. It includes all those authored by current and old members.

Finally, we do have a small collection of books relating to all things Oxford, such as college histories. We have called this the Oxford Collection, and includes titles such as, The History of the University and Oxford Historical Society Publications.


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Using our special collections

We actively encourage the use of our rare collections and want our books to facilitate worldwide research.

Our library team is very accommodating and aims to fulfil all requests to view material as best we can. Appointments are usually made between 9am and 4pm Monday- Friday. Unfortunately, we cannot acommodate viewings during the weekend.

Please do email our library email address ([email protected]) if you have any questions about our special collections, or would like to request a viewing. We have two members of staff, Joanna Mills and Sophie Floate, who are focused on our rare books and will get back to you as soon as possible.

If you are a lecturer or researcher teaching at Brasenose College or in the university and would like to use our books in teaching, please email Joanna to discuss further ([email protected]). 

New to requesting rare books or manuscripts?

We know it can be daunting requesting rare books or manuscripts for the first time, so we have created a brief leaflet of what to expect on your first visit to us or elsewhere. You can find it on our libguides page here.


Common queries about college and university services.

The Lodge

The services provided by the porters.

The College Office

Information on the services and staff.


Information on college rooms.


Read about Brasenose libraries

Fees & Finance

Food & Drink

Information on Brasenose's catering services and bar.

IT Support

Information on IT provision at Brasenose.