Growing steadily over the centuries, the library collections in manuscript, print and electronic formats reflect the changing academic requirements and interests of the members of the college from the Middle Ages to the present day. Professional staff support the studies and research of Mertonians and others with assistance in locating and making the best use of resources in both the college and in the wider information world.
Special collections include medieval manuscripts, early printed books, and personal papers of notable Mertonians such as the mountaineer Andrew 'Sandy' Irvine (1902-1924) and the caricaturist and critic Max Beerbohm (1872-1956). Other major collections include the personal and business archive of the Oxford bookseller and publisher Basil Blackwell (Merton 1907) and the Frank Brenchley TS Eliot Collection.
The extensive college archive has an unbroken history back to the foundation of the college in 1264. Originally housed in the late-thirteenth-century muniment tower in Mob Quad, the archive documents college activities and the estates and communities whose histories have been linked with that of the college in the course of 750 years.
The college library and archives have developed through the care, work, and generosity of many generations of Mertonians, providing a remarkable learning and research resource for all members of the college and for visiting researchers and academic groups. Through guided tours and changing exhibitions the college shares its treasures with a wider public.