St John's College Oxford
Visitors are welcome to come and see a changing programme of themed exhibitions in the Old and Laudian Libraries. Historic manuscripts, books and papers from the collections are usually on display.


Current exhibition

Special Collections ExhibitionSpecial Collections Today and Tomorrow

The current exhibition celebrates the opening of our state-of-the-art Library & Study Centre. The exhibition illustrates how the Library’s outstanding Special Collections will become more accessible for students, scholars and the public, who will be invited to think, read, reflect and write about the Library's treasures – and simply to enjoy the books’ timeless beauty.

The books and documents displayed represent the services provided and events organised by the College and Library to facilitate access to the Special Collections today and in the future. Among the highlights of the exhibition will be the College’s oldest text, oldest manuscript book, and oldest printed book. Further highlights are two beautifully hand-coloured early printed books, a magnificently illuminated medieval Bestiary, and St John’s only literary Oriental manuscript.

Running from 14 October to 13 December, the Exhibition is open to all members of College and their guests, and alumni with up to three guests. Members of the public wishing to see the exhibition should contact the Librarian ( in advance.

Discover some of the exhibition highlights.

Visit our Library Blog

Previous exhibitions

2019 Richard Murphy (1927-2018): celebrates the Anglo-Irish poet

'By herself': rediscovering the history of women at St John's College, Oxford: an exhibition exploring the history of women at St John’s, from its founding in 1555 through to the modern day.

2017 Stories from the Shelves: exploring the history of St John's Library and its readers

2017 "excuse the scrawl": literary letters from St John's College special collections

2016/17 Always something new: Africa in the Special Collections of St John's College

2016 Do we need pictures?:illustrations in the earliest printed books

2015/16 In the Like Case: a 17th-century medical correspondence illustrated with early medical books

2015 Not An Illustration: abstract book art in livres d'artiste

2014/15 Visited by all the Gods: the context of the letters of W.B. Yeats

2014 The Field of Human Conflict: war through the ages

2013/14 Alpha to Zed: a classical alphabet

2013 The Path that Sinners Tread: the seven deadly sins

2012/13 Revolutions: astrology, astronomy & astronauts

2012 Liturgy: sex, violence & prayer

2011/12 Something Rich and Strange: the exploration of America

2011 Catching Breath: language & writing

2010 Birds, Bees & Bonnacons: zoological illustration

Exhibitions are open to all members of College and their guests, and alumni with up to three guests. Members of the public wishing to see an exhibition should contact the Librarian in advance.

libraryVisiting the Library

Prospective students & members of the public
Prospective students are welcome to visit the Library during Library opening times. Other prospective visitors should email the Librarian to see if this is possible. 

Academic researchers
Academic researchers are welcome to consult material not available elsewhere in the University. Please contact the Librarian to check the item is available and to make an appointment. Graduate students should bring a letter from their supervisor. Visitors requiring special access should make this clear when writing. Please note that the permission of the College will be needed for publication.

Alumni and members' visitors
Members may show friends or colleagues around the Library, and should always sign them into the Visitors' Book at the Desk. Guided tours for small groups may be arranged with the Librarian. Alumni are welcome to visit the library during normal opening hours, and to bring their families and friends, signing them in as guests.

Library Posters