Detail map of Oxford, England, United Kingdom Overview map of Oxford, England, United Kingdom

A: Oxford, England, United Kingdom

Foundation of Merton College, Oxford, "The World's Oldest Continuously Functioning Library for University Academics and Students"

Merton College Library and Hall, Oxford.

Merton College Library and Hall, Oxford.

The Merton College Library, at Oxford. (View Larger)

The library of Merton College, Oxford, which calls itself the "the world’s oldest continuously functioning library for university academics and students" traces it origins to 1276:

"The provision of books and their storage feature in College records from 1276, when Robert Kilwardby (Archbishop of Canterbury) directed that any books that Fellows brought with them to the College, or acquired during residence, should remain at Merton. The books were to be kept in a chest under three locks, and to be assigned by the Warden and Sub-Warden to the use of the Fellows against a pledge. Later, there were two collections of books: one was kept chained in libraria (the earliest form of chaining dates from 1284), the other was a circulating library. It is not known where the first chained library was located, but repairs were needed in 1338 and it had to be plastered and whitewashed in 1346" (

Timeline Themes