The RSL has absorbed several smaller Departmental libraries since 2007.

Experimental Psychology Library

The Experimental Psychology Library completed its integration to the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) in the beginning of October 2009. It is not the first time the Library had moved. It lived at 3 different addresses within the science area before moving to the RSL. The Library opened in 1935 at 34 Banbury Road, in a tiny corner of the administrative office of the Institute of Experimental Psychology. Library in 1935

The collection was small but it provided access to journals academics used for their work, notably Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. In the 1950's, the library moved with its institute to 1 South Parks Road in a Victorian building, and acquired its own room, with large windows and a charming view of the garden, a feature it will later lose, prompting much discussion. The collection grew as a result of the establishment of a psychology undergraduate course part of a new school, the PPP- Psychology, Physiology and Philosophy, and kept growing to primarily support the teaching of the psychology undergraduate course. View of the Library from the garden at 1 South Parks Road

In those days, not only could they stay in the unstaffed library till late, but they would illicitly smoke at leisure until the housekeeper shut the building. As books and journals were also disappearing, the library ended out-of-hours access.

The Library was certainly popular, but it had no professional Library staff. It was managed by a lecturer who acted as a Librarian, while administrative staff took care of daily matters. If the library was popular, psychology as a subject was as well. Space became insufficient, and a new move was on the horizon. In 1971 the institute became the Department of Experimental Psychology in its new building in 9 South Parks Road bringing with it the Library.

EP Department building in 1971

The Library got a bigger room, a professional Librarian, the ""six forms"", a prestigious statue from Barbara Hepworth as part of an embellishment project following the completion of the building, and no windows. the

Despite the new facilities, a library with no windows became the recurrent subject of complaints. In the span of 25 years, readers, instead of facing a white bare wall, rested their eyes looking at fish from a large aquarium, then a poster of an autumn wood, and finally a three dimensional mural containing windows from which appeared a countryside landscape reminiscent of the Chilterns Hills overlooking the horizon. No windows meant no noise from outside, a feature not always criticized by readers. During the last 5 years before the final library's move, regular readers praised the fact that the library had been an attractive place to find isolation and solace from all kinds of distraction including noise. Mural painted by

In 2004 the library became part of Oxford University Library Services. Readers enjoyed the benefits of some standardised services, while the library participated in common projects, for example journal de-duplication, printed guides, subject websites, and Library of Congress reclassification. They also appreciated features absent from most OULS libraries such as journals lending, 24-hour access for postgraduates and staff, and permission of bottled water in the reading room. Self-issue and 9-to -5 hour undergraduate access to unstaffed library services were added to allow one full time and one part time staff to keep the library in good operation and readers satisfied. It was also the year that the integration of the library to the RSL was planned.

In 2009, this time the library moved on its own while the Department stayed behind. The library brings unique titles as well as additional lending copies to RSL's collection, and furniture creating a new readers' area. Staff have also joined the RSL, while continuing their role from a new base with a real window.

Back to top

Geography Library

The Geography Library was originally founded with the School of Geography in 1899, moving to 3 Mansfield Road in the 1920's. A purpose-built extension to house the growing collections was constructed in 1969. In 2005 the School of Geography relocated to the former Dyson Perrins chemistry laboratory in South Parks Road, combining with the Environmental Change Institute and Transport Studies Unit to form the new Oxford University Centre for the Environment. That building was not however suitable for housing the library, and the decision was made to transfer the collections to the Radcliffe Science Library as soon as possible. In the event this took 2.5 years, during which the collection was completely catalogued on SOLO, reclassified by the Library of Congress scheme to permit interfiling with RSL collections, and rearranged to fit the available spaces in the RSL. Meanwhile space for it was created in the RSL by moving selected low-use materials to remote storage.

The main Map Collection transferred to the Bodleian Map Room and integrated with the collections there; some report literature was transferred to the Radcliffe Camera or Rhodes House, Vere Harmsworth, Indian Institute or Social Social Science Libraries where they had related holdings, but the vast majority of books and periodicals transferred to the RSL.

In 2009, during the next phase of reorganisation at the RSL, many more books were transferred from the stack to the open shelves, and a programme of e-book acquisition was instituted to improve access to key texts.

Back to top

Plant Sciences Library

The Plant Sciences Library was located within the Department of Plant Sciences and worked in collaboration with CAB International (CABI), an intergovernmental organization providing services worldwide to agriculture, forestry, human health and the management of natural resources, and other international organisations.

The Library dated originally from 1621, and was founded on the formerly separate departmental libraries of Agricultural Science, Botany and Forestry. It was richly endowed with rare early botanical works, many dating from the 17th century, including taxonomic works still in regular use. Conservation work on this material was funded by the British Library and the Hulme University Fund. Sibthorp's Flora Graeca, has been digitised along with associated material, as part of the Oxford Digital Library, and has featured in several exhibitions.

In summer 2010 the majority of the Library's collections was transferred to the Radcliffe Science Library; taxonomic and rare materials will however remain in the Department in the Sherardian Library alongside the Herabarium collections to which they relate.

Back to top

Zoology Library

The Zoology Library provided material for the teaching and research undertaken in the Department of Zoology, where it was situated. It contained the holdings of the former Elton Library, a specialist collection in the field of ecology, named after Charles Elton, of the Bureau of Animal Populations, the "father of animal ecology".

The Zoology Library included a small archive of research notes and other materials by members of the Department during the late 19th  to early 20th century, the most notable of which are the photograph albums from the Challenger Expedition, 1872-1876. A listing of publications arising from studies in Wytham Wood is still maintained. The Elton archive includes research material from Wytham studies.

The Alexander Library is a specialist reference collection seeking comprehensive coverage of the field of ornithology, and one of the foremost ornithological reference libraries in the world. It is an international resource and much of its material is obtained on special funds and contributions from the British Ornithological Union (BOU) [opens in new window] in recognition of services provided, or by exchange. It also houses the British Falconers' Club library, and retains all material permanently. It was founded on the personal collections of W.B. Alexander, the first director of the Oxford Bird Census (the predecessor of the Edward Grey Institute), and in his retirement, the first Librarian. Its collections  of  19th and 20th century books, pamphlets and periodicals, and archive [opens in new window] of ornithological notebooks and diaries of ornithologists of this era are extensive. The collections include material of interest to zoologists generally, particularly in the fields of  natural history, conservation, ecology and behaviour.

In summer 2010 the Zoology collections transferred to the Radcliffe Science Library, where they will continue to be available. The Alexander Library remained in the Zoology Department alongside the Edward Grey Institute, but is now temporarily located in the Radcliffe Science Library after the closure of the Tinbergen Building.

Back to top

Back to top