Find out about our current exhibition and how to visit St John's College's library


Members of the College may visit exhibitions in the Library & Study Centre at their own convenience during opening hours.

Visitors to the College are welcome to email to arrange an appointment to visit exhibitions.

Caxton Chaucer Knight -  detail only

Book of the Month: Selections from 2022/23

Library & Study Centre, 9 October- 11 December 2023

Poster for the current exhibition: On gold background are nine image tiles with thumbnails of images of items displayed. The written information duplicates the information on this webpage regarding the exhibition title, location, and dates.

The exhibition begins at the display case opposite the library desk in the Library & Study Centre's entrance hall. The exhibition continues upstairs on the landing outside the Laudian Library with two further display cases and then with six further display cases in the new exhibition room between the Laudian Library and the Old Library.

Please lift the covers to see the items displayed in the cases. Once you are finished looking at a display, cover up the case again to protect the items form the daylight.

You can also check out the online exhibition here

We would love to hear your feedback. Please tweet us @StJohnsOxLib or email to

All previous exhibitions can be access here. Recent exhibitions include:


  • From Ink to Pixels: Digitizing Manuscripts at St John's College: St John’s College Library has over 400 manuscripts, which are the focus of an ongoing digitization project begun in 2020. The exhibition provides an insight into our work as we aim to support global research by making catalogue records of our manuscripts accessible online in central databases and by making our most significant books digitally accessible on Digital Bodleian.


  • Life Stories from St John's: The Famous & the Forgotten: For over 450 years the lifeblood of St John’s College has been the people who live and work inside its walls. Some have dedicated a good part of their lives to this College, while others have just passed through. Many have become famous and even more remain forgotten. This exhibition brings together a few of these life stories.
  • Reading, Writing, and Research: a decade in the life of a President, 2012-2022: This exhibition showcases Professor Maggie Snowling's research as she reaches the final term of her presidency, as well as items in the St John's collections related to language.
  • The President, the “Prince”, and the Hedgehog: An Exhibition in honour of Ruth Ogden, Deputy Librarian 1987-2022, on the occasion of her retirement: The exhibition showcases a selection of Ruth Ogden’s favourite items from the Library’s historical collections. The books and documents are accompanied by captions which echo Ruth’s thoughts about them.


  • St John’s College and the Colonial Past: The Library & Study Centre is delighted to host an exhibition curated by Dr Mishka Sinha to showcase her research on St John’s College and the Colonial Past. Dr Sinha is a Research Associate at St John’s College and co-directing the project on St John’s and the Colonial Past with Professor William Whyte. St John’s College and the Colonial Past is an innovative project that explores connections between the college and colonialism, uncovering benefactions to St John’s and the alumni who served in the empire. It also investigates the monuments, objects, pictures and buildings that evoke the colonial past. 
  • Thomas Willis (1621-1675): The Founder of Neurology: We are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Dr Thomas Willis, the founder of neurology, who was born on 27 January 1621. Thomas Willis is relatively unknown today but his medical legacy in neurology and other medical areas extends to this day. His impressive accomplishments and central standing in the emergence of modern science at Oxford makes highlighting his life, work and collaborations long overdue.The library of St John’s College holds first editions and other early editions of all of Thomas Willis’s works except for one posthumous publication. The College also holds a good dozen letters of Willis with a focus on his work as a physician. The online exhibition introduces Thomas Willis’s work and life as illustrated by these holdings, looking not only at the books and letters, but also presenting his collaborations and legacy. The exhibition is part of wider celebrations of Thomas Willis at Oxford University, initiated by Zoltán Molnár, Professor of Developmental Neurobiology at Oxford University and Tutorial Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford. View the preview trailer here.


Alumni of the College are welcome to visit the modern Library & Study Centre and the Laudian Library. If you are visiting with a maximum of 5 people, you will not need to pre-arrange your visit, but please announce yourself at the Library Desk in the entrance hall of the Library & Study Centre. If you are planning to visit with more guests, please email

Please note that self-guided visits must follow the predetermined route, which excludes the following locations: Mark Bedingham Seminar Room, the study rooms, Upper Reading Room, Old Library, and the basement as well as staff offices.

During your visit

  • Report to the Lodge on St Giles in the first instance. The porters will then direct you to the Library & Study Centre. If you require directions to find St John's College, please check our 'Visit us'-page.
  • Please use the buzzer at the Library and Study Centre's main entrance in the Canterbury Quad to gain entrance to the building. Continue straight ahead through the long entrance area to the Library Desk. You must let us know of your arrival before visiting any other part of the building.
  • St John's College's library is a working library and visitors are expected to be considerate of those studying and working there.
  • Talking is restricted to areas outside the reading rooms.
  • Photography is not allowed inside the Library & Study Centre and the historic libraries.

School Visits

All visits by school groups are arranged via the College’s Access and Outreach Team. Please have a look at the 'Visit St John's' webpage of the Access & Outreach Team, which has a booking form towards the end of the webpage or email

Other Library Visits

Please email