In honor of National Libraries Day, a post on one of Oxford’s most beautiful department libraries, the Taylor Institution Library! Sir Robert Taylor is the namesake of the Taylor Institution (or Taylorian), founded in 1845, half a century after his death. Although Taylor worked as an architect and sculptor, he left his estate to support the teaching of modern European languages. And that’s pretty much what the Taylorian still does. Its shares its original quarters, built in the 1840s by Charles Cockerell, with the fabulous Ashmolean Museum (which is fabulous. Seriously.) The Modern Language Faculty Library inhabits a less glamorous but still pleasant connected 1938 building on St Giles’ (the door, photo 1; the stacks, photo 9). The growing Slavonic and Eastern European collections have since been transferred to a different location, which I think is a bit unfair to them, since the Taylorian is such an inspiring space. Its cavernous ceiling, graceful gallery, and elevated desks overlooking the wide boulevard of St Giles’ make it a much sought-after (and sometimes crowded) study space (photos 2-8). The Institution also seems to go on forever, with a warren of bright paneled rooms and basement tunnels. As for its collections, in addition to 500,000 books on the languages of Europe, it also holds a variety of special collections materials and an entire collection devoted to the French Enlightenment, the Voltaire Room (photo 10). There may not be a cafe (my second favorite thing in a library) but there are lots of books (first favorite thing)–so come visit!
More information here:
And go on a virtual tour (with more pictures, and fire safety tips!) here: