15 August 2011

Christ Church Library, Oxford


July 15

After visiting the Bodleian, Olivia and I went off and found somewhere to eat.  I started to get an ache in my jaw, and I took some decongestant and ibuprofen, but by the time we got to the group meeting place I started to cry because my face hurt so badly.  There was so much pressure and my ears wouldn’t pop, and there was a muscle under my chin that really started to hurt.  I think I alarmed Dr. Welsh a bit because I probably looked like a crazy person standing crying in the middle of Oxford.

After the whole group showed up, we had to sort of talk our way inside, because this older man was directing groups that were there for tours, and he was adamant that he wasn’t told we were coming.  We did eventually get inside, and then had to wind our way through to the building with the Christ Church Library.  All the girls used the bathroom and then up another staircase.


The Christ Church Library seemed fairly small to me, but well-used for its size. It had beautiful decorations up on the walls, I think plaster molds that looked a bit like bouquets, but with things like science and medical instruments in them.  Each section of bookshelves is named for the person who donated the collection it contains, another interesting classification scheme. 

The library was opened in 1772 and has both modern collections and special collections, including manuscripts going back to c550 and first editions of works by Copernicus and Galileo.  It is accessible to all Christ Church Students, faculty and staff, as well as researchers who obtain special permission.  The most interesting thing to me was the collection they had on display of things relating to Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, arguably the most famous Christ Churchian, including manuscripts and photos, as well as a beautifully made set of wooden figures that included most of the main characters (for some reason the March Hare was missing).

My notes are actually a little sparse on this library, because most of the time our guide Christina was talking I was trying to get my ears to pop.  I do know that the library is beautiful and has some amazing books, and that if you get too close to the shelves alarms will go off, so they are well-protected.  Someday I’d like to go back and do the library justice, and hopefully I won’t have a cold when I do.


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