St John's College Oxford
The Library contains a large range of unique, interesting and historical collections. These include over 200 medieval manuscripts, 20,000 books printed before 1850, several Middle Eastern manuscripts dating back to the 14th century, 200 modern manuscripts, and important collections of papers and books owned by figures such as Robert Graves, A.E. Housman and Spike Milligan.
Apian's Astronomicum Caesareum volvelle Detail of an astronomical diagram with moving parts (a 'volvelle') from Peter Apian's Astronomicum Caesareum, 1540.

General Highlights | Previous Exhibitions

Enquiries to consult or view items from the collections are welcomed. Please direct enquiries to the Librarian. There are regular exhibitions of special collections material (usually two a year) which are hosted in the display cases in the Old and Laudian Libraries. Members are welcome to visit during opening hours; members of the public will need to make an appointment with the Librarian.

The library will be closed 6 July – 1 September during the move of the working collections into the new Library & Study Centre.

There will be limited access to the Special Collections during this closed period, restricted to scholars from outside Oxford who cannot visit at a later date. Please email the Librarian, Dr Petra Hofmann, if you need access:

The library will reopen in the new building on Monday 2 September.


The Library contains about 400 manuscripts, ranging in date from the 9th to the 20th century, including some of great historical and artistic importance. There are some 179 medieval manuscripts, numerous post-medieval manuscripts and small collections of Greek and non-European manuscripts. Find out more.

Printed books

There are significant collections of historic or culturally significant printed books in the Library. Its early printed collections (prior to 1850) approach 20,000 items, with the earliest dating to 1465. These form a rich resource covering many subject areas. There are also collections of more modern printed material relating to literary alumni and a collection of fine printing and livres d'artiste. Find out more.

Personal papers

St John’s counts among its alumni a number of prominent figures of modern English literature. Generous donations to the College of personal papers and book collections have come to form a significant and growing collection of modern literary papers within the Library, particularly relating to Robert Graves, A.E. Housman and Spike Milligan. Find out more.


Scattered around the Library are number of items of historical interest. These range from a 4th-century fragment of papyrus to a 20th-century sculpture by Eric Gill. There are also significant artefacts associated with the Library which are now stored elsewhere. Find out more.

Gill's Tobias and Sarah Eric Gill's 'Tobias and Sarah' is housed in the Library.