Worcester College Library staircase

The Library

The Library is one of Worcester College's finest assets. The modern reading rooms contain 65,000 volumes, while the magnificent Old Library houses collections of European importance.

The collections of Worcester College Library are intended to support students, Fellows and staff of the College in all subjects; please see Information for College Members. Researchers may be interested in the special collections of prints, drawings, manuscripts and early printed books.

There was a library at the College’s predecessor institution, Gloucester College, and according to Anthony Wood, a building was erected c.1421 by Abbot John Whethamstede, who presented a number of volumes. Unfortunately the books were dispersed at the Reformation and only a couple of volumes are in the library today.  Gloucester Hall succeeded Gloucester College in 1560, and several hundred books which once belonged to the Hall have survived in our collections.  The current library building was begun a few years after the foundation of Worcester College in 1714. It was completed in 1736 to house Dr George Clarke’s great bequest of books, manuscripts, prints and drawings. Successive generations have added to the collections, and in the twentieth century the library was extended to accommodate the modern holdings. 

The library holds the Eland collection of modern books on architectural history, the generous bequest of Cyril Eland in 1995. We are actively developing the collection. We are also collecting publications by and about Old Members of the college and will receive any donations to this ‘Vigornienses’ collection with thanks.

The Library is at the top of an eighteenth-century cantilevered staircase with over 60 steps.  Should this present a problem, please notify us in advance of a visit, and we will make alternative arrangements for you to view material elsewhere.