Saturday, July 16, 2011
Christ Church College Library
As part of our tour around Oxford, we visited Christ Church College, just one of the 38 colleges that make up Oxford University. Made up of two collections, this library has more issues with finding space for their new editions than funding, which is a rare thing for libraries in todays economy. One of the most used libraries on the Oxford campus, Christ Church College Library has a huge and very important collection of musical scores and manuscripts, making it one of the leading music libraries in the world.
The current library was in 1772 and remains in same place today; even the books inside are arranged and placed in the same order as they were when the library first opened. Everything in the library's collection is available to the public in some way or another. Some books are available online, in pdf form, and other books are only in their original printed form. The library has over 100,000 early printed books which are arranged on the shelves by collection rather than subject. The only part of the library that is cataloged by subject is the music collection. Continuing the process of this type of organization allows for users to see which books were donated by which patron, and to get an insight into the books individuals read at the time. Our tour guide also explained that certain books have annotations inside of them. Another way that readers can gain a different perspective of the work; a way back to the thoughts of an earlier time.
The online catalog for these books is almost complete; about 2/3 of the collection of early printed books is available to patrons online and 100 percent of the music collection is available online for patron use. The early printed book collection here at Christ Church contains many science books, including several 1st editions of Newton, Coppernicus, and Galileo. Two first edition books of Galileo's one from 1543 and the other from 1546 exist in the collection.
I found the tour of Christ Church College Library to be very interesting. The decor of the library was preserved in great condition and I loved being able to see the way the library had looked when it was originally built. The decorations on the walls really captured what the books on the shelves were about and I truly enjoyed that about the library.