The main staircase in OWL library - Photo: © John Cairns -

Opening Hours, Facilities & Services

Opening hours

Old Warden's Lodgings (OWL) and Mob Lower Library:

  • Daily, 07:30 to 02:00
  • OWL and Mob are closed for the occasional event and for a period over the Christmas vacation. All closures are advertised in advance.

Members of Merton College

All members of Merton College are automatically registered to use the College Library.  Please contact a member of staff if you experience any difficulties using your University card to borrow books.

Non-members of Merton College

The College is happy to provide reference access to current publications not held in any of the University libraries.  It essential to contact the library in advance of your visit to arrange an appointment. Please bring your university card with you.

Facilities and current collections

The working library is in two locations.  Current books, periodicals, and DVDs for use by members of the college are housed in both the Old Warden's Lodgings (OWL) in Merton Street and in the Lower Library in Mob Quadrangle (Mob). The Old Warden’s Lodgings is an impressive Edwardian building that retains domestic features, such as the original fireplaces and window seats, which make for a welcoming, pleasant study environment. The windows in the Mob Library look out onto the Chestnut Lawn. There is WiFi in both libraries as well as multi-function machines for photocopying, printing, and scanning.

Priority is given to keeping library collections up-to-date, with an emphasis on main texts for undergraduates and taught postgraduate courses. All members of college are encouraged to suggest books for purchase, and staff are happy to help locate useful resources in print or digital formats and to provide access and assistance with the use of archives, manuscripts and special collections. The vast majority of the library collections have been catalogued on SOLO, the University of Oxford’s main library catalogue.

In addition to the main collection of academic material, the library has smaller collections for lighter reading and student interest: recently-published prize-winning books, an Equality and Diversity collection containing non-academic works on gender, sexuality, disability, race and religion, and books on academic skills and welfare issues.

The Upper Library in Mob Quadrangle preserves its beautiful 16th-century furnishings, and includes an exhibition area featuring changing displays from the college’s historic collections. Tours of the Upper Library are free for Mertonians and their guests; check with the Lodge for days and times.

Reader assistance & support

Merton College Library aims to provide the best access possible for members and readers. The library reading rooms are split between Mob Quad and the Old Warden’s Lodgings (OWL). Mob lower library has step-free access, though the small computer room is accessed via one small step. Access to the ground floor of OWL from a street-level entrance can be arranged on request.

Prospective students or visitors with disabilities who have queries about the facilities and services available are invited to contact the Deputy Librarian. Further access information about Merton College can be found in the University Access Guide.

Equipment available for use

  • Coloured sheet overlays and reading rulers
  • A variety of magnification equipment
  • Colour paper for printing (available on request)
  • Personal-size whiteboards
  • Cushions, including lumber support models
  • Laptop and book stands
  • Single-use earplugs
  • Desk lamps
  • A portable hearing loop
  • DVD/CD drives, headphones, various computer peripherals
  • Single-use earplugs
  • Various tabletop and full size height-adjustable desks