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Think what Summertown Library means to you .....

Summertown Library is currently closed for lockdown due to the Covid -19 pandemic.  

Please check to find out if you are able to order books and collect them.

During the Spring lockdown further refurbishment funded by the Friends of Summertown Library was carried out .

The popular series of talks by local writers and speakers on topical topics:

(Some of those planned for 2o20 have been postponed, but others will be on Zoom. Please see below for details.)

Please note that registration is necessary to join the event below. To register, please visit https://jonathanbromley.uk/library who has kindly agreed to provide the registration service, before 8th December. 

You will then receive an email with instructions how to join the Zoom session. The talk will last about an hour, and will include the opportunity to ask questions.

The talk is free, but if you wish to contribute to the Friends to help finance improvements to our Library,please click on the donate button above.

                     * * * * *


Zoom talk 6pm Thursday 10th December 2020   

Talk: "Bletchley Park - A Hothouse of Talents. What happened to those Codebreakers after the War?"


Sinclair McKay is a features writer for The Spectator and The Telegraph. He is also the acclaimed author of the bestselling 'The Secret Life of Bletchley Park', 'The Fire and the Darkness: the Bombing of Dresden, 1945', 'The Spies of Winter: the GCHQ Codebreakers who fought the Cold War', 'The Mile End Murder', and many others

The story of Bletchley Park is well known. The triumphs of breaking into Nazi and Japanese codes were not just mathematical and linguistic feats; they were won by men and women with a startling range of intellectual and artistic interests. Once the war was over, some of these wonderful minds went on to dazzle the world in a variety of ways.


Thursday 19th March, 2020 - postponed

   Talk: "Putin - a new Cold War?"













Christopher Danziger has taught modern European History for much of his life. He was formerly Head of History at St Edward’s School, and a lecturer at the universities of Durham and Cape Town. For the past 15 years he has been a tutor in the O.U. Department of Continuing Education. His special interests are in Napoleonic France and Romanov Russia, on both of which he has written extensively.

TThere has recently been much talk of a "new Cold War" and Putin is routinely demonised in the West, but Christopher Danziger argues that had the West treated Russia differently in the days after the fall of  Communism, present day relationships might have been collaborative rather than competitive. Has Putin has turned out to be the leader whom the West wished on Russia? 

Admission free, but voluntary donations to the work of the Friends will continue to help the Library. May we suggest £10? There will be a basket near the seating area.

Thursday 2nd April, 2020 
at 6pm in the Library

   Talk: "Iran - Foe or Friend?"



Jack Straw was MP for Blackburn from 1979 to 2015 and was one of only three Cabinet ministers to serve continuously throughout the Labour Governments of 1997 to 2010. He is perhaps the only individual to have held the three Great Offices of State, namely Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Justice Secretary.

In 2001, in his role as Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw was the first senior British government minister to visit Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979

Jack will talk about his recent book: 'The English Job - Understanding Iran, and why it distrusts Britain' , which received wide critical acclaim. Straw has made seven trips to Iran. In October 2015 he, his wife and two friends tried to take a holiday in Iran. It did not work out as planned. The bizarre story of this 'holiday' in which Straw and his party had to be given police protection against other security agencies of the same state will open his talk. It will conclude with some acute analyses of Iran today

Thursday 21st May, 2020 
at 6pm in the Librar


Talk: "Brexit and the Constitution"



Paul Craig is Emeritus Professor of English Law, St John's College, Oxford. He has taught and researched in Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and EU Law since 1976. This talk will highlight some of the key topics raised by Brexit, and the way in which they reflect deeper issues as to the nature of our constitutional order.


Previous  Talks:

Thursday 13th February

ROBIN WILSON - Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Open University talked about "Sir Isaac Newton - his life, labours and legacy".

Thursday 23rd January

DAVID ROONEY - an award-winning museum curator, writer and historian of time, cities, technology and engineering talked about "The History of Time".

Thursday 5th December

PETER LANTOS - a highly successful neuroscientist and Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences talked about "Parallel Lines" - a childhood journey to Belsen and life thereafter.

Thursday 14th November

PROFESSOR SIR ADAM ROBERTS - who holds a number of senior academic posts and whose main interests are in the fields of international security, international organizations, and international law talked about 'Civil Resistance - from Prague to Hong Kong'

​​​​​17 October 2019

REBECCA ABRAMS - an award-winning author, teacher and literary journalist talked about 'The Jewish Journey' -

told through 22 Objects from the Ashmolean Museum .

16 May 2019

MARCUS FERRAR - a former Reuters correspondent and author of books about Germany, Eastern Europe and freedom talked about 'Dresden: the destruction and renewal of a European jewel.'

4 April 2019

HENRY MACRORY- Deputy and Acting Editor of the Sunday Express talked about ' Rise and Falls of Whitaker Wright, Britain's most shameless swindler.

7 March 2019 

ALASTAIR LACK  - After 26 years making TV and radio programmes for the BBC, mainly with the World Service,  talked about some of its history, his travels and the people he met.

4 February 2019

BART VAN ES -Professor of English Literature at Oxford University and author

talked about his recent book 'The Cut Out Girl' -A Childhood in Hiding

13 December 2018
Futurist SOPHIE HACKFORD looked at the role of Artificial Intelligence and talked about its future.
16 November 2018
In her Talk last night, astronomer REBECCA BOWLER took us back billions of years to the earliest years of the universe. Wonderfully illustrated and delivered, with more questions from the floor than on any previous occasion. Our audience  of 50 donated £370 to the Friends' funds. Thank you!
22 October 2018
A large appreciative audience enjoyed a fascinating Talk on 10 October by Deborah Gill. Superb slides (using our new projector and screen) explained the nature of genome research and illustrated the context, and advances being made, in her area of study. 
10 October 2018
Library Talk tomorrow at 6 pm: 'Gene Medicine - A Brave New World?' by Professor Deborah Gill. See for details.
28 September 2018
At a reception in the Library last night, a large group of Friends celebrated the completion of the Library's renovation. More than £90,000 has been raised to make this possible, with the active support of Oxford County Council. 
16 July 2018
A great day! The Library re-opened today after six weeks of work internally and externally, altogether costing over £100,000.
Substantially funded by the Friends, after several years of fund-raising, our new-look library is more welcoming, has better facilities for work and leisure, and a much improved Children's section overlooking the Turrill Sculpture Garden.
  • Very many thanks to all who have contributed to this happy outcome: donors of money and Topical Talks, the Library staff, and OCC Library Services which have contributed both funds and much effort in support of the project.
Do visit Summertown Library to have a look and leave any comment or suggestion in the book at the service desk. We will listen to all you have to say as we continue our work to make the Library even more attractive and useful to our Summertown community.
22 May 2018
In response to an appeal to our supporters, 30 people have so far generously purchased a new chair for Library meetings and other events. 
  • We want to afford 60 new chairs in all. Please consider purchasing a chair, if you have not already done so.  
  • A cheque for £60 for a chair, payable to Friends of Summertown Library, may be sent to Mark Holland at the address at the foot of this column.
Thank you!
15 May 2018
The Friends are delighted to have now raised £93,000, enough to pay for the refit of the Library after several years of fund-raising. 
With some additional funding from OCC Library Services, work will start on 4 June, taking six weeks to complete. During this period the Library will be closed. The Library will re-open on 16 July.
In addition to the planned internal refit, the Library forecourt will be much improved - with a dedicated Disability parking space, new cycle racks and a new fascia. 
A formal re-opening is planned for late September 2018.

For more details see



The Friends of Summertown Library raise funds to upgrade Summertown Library and broaden its appeal to our community.

We have now met our initial goal of £93,000, which  - with additional funds made available by OCC Library Services - means that the transformation has taken place in Summer 2018. 

The project, devised with the help of a specialised library design company, makes the Library more user-friendly and adapts it to modern needs.

The re-modelling …

  • introduces new bookcases, which display books more effectively and attractively

  • creates space for events for up to 100 people

  • expands and relocates the Children’s section to a safer and more attractive position overlooking the Turrill Sculpture Garden at the rear of the building

  • upgrades electrical fittings and computers

  • delivers new carpeting and decoratation

  • creates a brighter and more welcoming frontage with reserved Disabled parking.


Now this first goal of the Friends has been met, we will continue to actively support the Library through continued fund-raising and an expanded range of events in the Library.

CONTACT US to join the Friends' email circulation list, and please give what you can by pressing the Donate button at the top of this page. 


Thank you !

Marcus Ferrar,


The Friends of Summertown Library

7 Capel Close, Oxford OX2 7LA

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 554381

Mob: +44 (0) 7584 19948

If you would like to be put on the emailing list please contact

Michael Garton here.

Our Christmas/Winter show will run from 3rd December - 27th February.

FALL 2023


 South Parade, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7JN        Registered Charity No. 1147612

             Honorary President: Sir Adam Roberts, KCMG, FBA                             


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