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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.

Our latest additions are blinds for the high windows and colourful subject dividers for the children's book shelves.

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.

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

Please check the Summertown Library website for opening hours.

The popular series of talks organised by the Friends of Summertown Library  by local writers and speakers on topical topics has now returned to the Library on Thursdays at 6pm and notices about future lectures are below:

16th May 2024:

PAUL FLATHER will talk about

 "Adam von Trott"

Dr Paul Flather is a former chair of the Oxford Adam von Trott Memorial Committee. Prior to that he worked as a journalist and human rights activist, working closely with Central European dissident groups (for which he received a medal from the Czech government).  He helped found the Central European University in Prague, and was formerly head of international affairs at Oxford University. He recently retired as a Fellow of Mansfield College.



Paul will explore the life and resistance of Adam von Trott zu Solz, who entered Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 1931, where he made many friends. In 1939 Adam visited England again and had secret talks with Lord Halifax and Neville Chamberlain, but his attempts to secure support against Hitler were unsuccessful. In 1940 he accepted a position in the German Foreign Office, from where he played a key role in the failed July Plot to kill Hitler in 1944.
Paul will examine how Adam's time in Oxford influenced his future thinking and his attempts to broker peace.

Previous  Talks:

Thursday 22 February


principle of Hertford College, Oxford and a former UK ambassador in Lebanon talked about "The Middle East - What can we hope for"

Thursday 11th January

TIMOTHY GARTON ASH, writer and historian talked about "Homelands - a Personal History of Europe".

Thursday 14th December

MARTIN WAINWRIGHT, retired reporter on the Guardian and Northern Editor in Manchester

talked about fake news in"What is Truth? - The Challenge of Providing Context to News"

Thursday 9th November


told her family story in   "Kino and Kinder" about her Grandmother's cinema in Vienna before the Anschluss and subsequent life in Britain.

Thursday19th October


a Professor of Physics at Oxford University and a member of the Royal Society talked about  "Planetary Systems - A Beginner's Guide"

Thursday18th May


- a writer and translator talked about

"Chekhov and Tolstoy - and why we need to keep reading Russian literature."

Thursday 23rd March


- an Anglo-German artist and public speaker who has spent much of her career teaching art in prisons.

talked about  "In My Grandfather’s Shadow: a story of war, trauma and the legacy of silence"

Thursday 2nd March


- a former Reuters correspondent who reported from behind the Iron Curtain in the Cold War. He is the author of books on Germany, Eastern Europe and freedom.He is also Chairman of the Friends of Summertown Library. He talked about "Russia's Disaster" 
- a talk on Russia and the Russians in the light of the war against Ukraine

Thursday 26th January


Head of History and rugby coach at an Oxfordshire prep school, a successful businessman, parliamentary candidate,  Formula 2000 racing driver, Scottish Superkart champion and an epée bronze medallist. He talked about l "Lucky Hitler's Big Mistakes" 
- an exposé of Hitler’s true strengths and secret weaknesses

Thursday 8th December 2022

MARGARET BULLARD - Diplomatic wife

talked about,

"Endangered Species: Diplomacy from the Passenger Seat"

Thursday 17th November,

GARETH WINROW - Gareth lived and worked in Turkey for 20 years where he was a Professor of International Relations. More recently he has focused on local, family and social history. He talked about 'The Butcher, The Tailor, The Picture-Frame Maker - Stories of Middle Way"dle W

Thursday 27th October 2022

REBECCA ABRAMS - award-winning author and journalist. She is a regular literary critic for the Financial Times and teaches creative writing at Oxford University talked about

"Licoricia of Winchester - Power and Prejudice in Medieval England"

Wednesday 1st June 2022

CHRISTOPHER DANZIGER - former Head of History at St Edward’s School,  a lecturer at the universities of Durham and Cape Town a tutor in the O.U. Department of Continuing Education talked about

"882 A.D. - the Origin of Putin's Ukrainian War?"

Thursday 4th November 2021

MARCUS FERRAR - former Reuters correspondent and author

talked about  "Half a Century in Tuscany:

the lure of adventure, the colourful characters, the wild nature, his vineyard – and why he put an end to it.

Thursday 13th May 2021

MAJOR NICOLA WETHERILL- expedition leader for 'Ice Maiden' talked about  "Expedition Ice Maiden: The First All-Female Team to cross Antarctica"

Thursday 15th April 2021

LORD JAY of EWELME- a career Diplomat talked about "The House of Lords: Past, Present and...Future?"

Thursday 18th March 2021

PAUL CRAIG - Emeritus Professor of English Law  talked about "UK - EU Relations post-Brexit".

Thursday 18th February 2021

PAUL NURSE - world-renowned geneticist and cell biologist and Director of the Francis Crick Institute who has served as President of the Royal Society  talked about "What is Life?" 

Thursday 14th January 2021

ARCHIE BROWN - Oxford Emeritus Professor of Politics, and advisor on the Soviet Union to Margaret Thatcher  talked about "Gorbachev, Reagan, and Thatcher, and the End of the Cold War" 

Thursday 10th December 2020

SINCLAIR MACKAY - a features writer for The Spectator and The Telegraph. talked about "Bletchley Park - A Hothouse of Talents. What happened to those Codebreakers after the War?" 

Thursday 13th February 2020

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

Thursday 23rd January 2020

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 2019

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 2019

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.

'Nature's Narratives' Sculpture Exhibition

6 April - 29 June 2024

Details here

 Nature's Narratives 2024 postersm.jpeg
View Collection

FALL 2023


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

             Honorary President: Sir Adam Roberts, KCMG, FBA                             

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