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For the Love of Libraries: The Taylorian

In the first instalment of a new series, Rumaisa Khusru explain her love for Oxford's Taylor Institution Library.

The city of Oxford is home to an extensive library system including both new and ancient ones. From the iconic Radcliffe Camera to the touristy Old Bodleian, to the various college libraries, where most students like to put in late nights of work, Oxford has plenty of study spots as the city boasts a total of over a hundred libraries. It is definitely arduous to choose just one out of the myriad of libraries at Oxford, almost like choosing a favourite book, as they all have their own special qualities and atmospheres, and studying in each one is a distinct experience.

The Radcliffe Camera, popularly known as the RadCam, is a landmark widely recognised worldwide as a symbol of the University of Oxford. Its architectural grandeur and aesthetic appeal have garnered significant admiration from students and visitors alike. However, despite the RadCam’s popularity, my personal favourite in Oxford is the Taylor Institute Library, also known as the Taylorian. Although its exterior may not be as striking as the RadCam, the Taylorian’s interior is breathtaking and sure to leave a lasting impression on any visitor. 

Located on St. Giles Street, the best part of this library is that it shares a wall with the Ashmolean Museum. Once I have completed my work for the day, I often treat myself to a visit to the museum just next door. I love this library for its proximity to the city centre as well. If you have ever been inside the Taylorian, you are definitely familiar with the main reading room, and you may have even done some studying in that space. The primary reading room at the Taylorian features an atmosphere that is both beautiful and comfortable. The grand chandeliers drench the room in a warm amber glow and help to create an atmosphere that is conducive to focus on academic work. The tables located on the balcony provide the best seating in the room. To get a glimpse of what it would have been like to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast, utilise the spiral staircase from within. From this vantage point, the view of the entire room is impeccable. I like to think that every library has a soul of its own, and where the RadCam imbues an intense and slightly chaotic ambient, the Taylorian feels more relaxed and less anxious.

I absolutely enjoy my study sessions in the main reading room, however, snagging one of those coveted balcony seats can be impossible. In those instances, a hidden gem at this library is the Voltaire room, located on a  lower floor. It gets wonderfully quiet, and the mint-green walls are a breath of fresh air from the deep brown theme of the main reading room. The Voltaire room is a good idea if the main room gets busy (as it often does).

As a student majoring in Applied Linguistics and undertaking research that frequently focuses on languages, I find that the information available at the Taylorian, a library dedicated to modern European literature and languages (other than English), is well attuned to my needs.

For all the many reasons mentioned above, the Taylorian remains one of my favourite libraries! The only aspect I wish would change about this library would be the timings. By 7 pm it is lights off so if you are someone who frequently burns the midnight oil, perhaps the Taylorian is not the best option, but it is definitely worth the visit! 
Tip: Once you finish up at the library, make sure to visit the Ashmolean and then grab a bite to eat at Najar’s Place, a Lebanese food cart with great wraps, opposite the Taylorian!

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