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Think what Summertown Library means to you .....
The popular series of talks by local writers and speakers on topical topics

Thursday 5th December 2019

at 6pm in the Library

 Talk: "Parallel Lines" - a childhood journey to Belsen and life thereafter


Following his arrival in England in 1968, Peter established a highly successful career in London as a neuroscientist, specialising in diseases of the nervous system. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a Trustee of Alzheimer's Research UK. He took up writing on his retirement.

The talk follows Peter's life from his time in Belsen, through his liberation by the US Army, followed by brutal years under the communist regime in Hungary before he succeeded in defecting in 1968 and establishing a highly successful academic career in medicine in London.

Thursday 23rd January, 2020
at 6pm in the Library

Talk:  "The History of Time"


David is an award-winning museum curator, writer and historian of time, cities, technology and engineering. As well as collaborating on museum exhibitions and displays, he has written books on timekeeping, mathematics and urban planning, and is currently writing a history of clocks and civilization.

David's talk explores the history of time and its distribution, from the early nineteenth century to the present, focusing on the work of Ruth Belville, the so-called ‘Greenwich Time Lady’. The Belville family sold accurate time across London in a lucrative business that lasted over a century, and only came to an end when Ethel Cain, called the ‘Girl with the Golden Voice’, ushered in a new age of speaking clocks.

Thursday 13th February, 2020 
at 6pm in the Library

   Talk: "Sir Isaac Newton - his life, labours and legacy"


Robin Wilson is an Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Open University, amongst many other posts. He has written and edited over 40 books on the history of mathematics, including 'Lewis Carroll in Numberland', and has received many awards and prizes for the popularization and communication of mathematics and its history.

Everyone knows the story of Newton and the apple, but how did it happen, and what else did he do? In a world-wide poll conducted to find Britain’s greatest figure, Sir Isaac Newton came top of the list. This illustrated lecture covers his life and his mathematical and scientific labours in the context of 17th-century England, featuring his childhood in Lincolnshire, his university career in Cambridge, and his later life in London as Master of the Royal Mint and President of the Royal Society. (This talk is designed for a general audience and no mathematical knowledge is assumed.)

Thursday 19th March, 2020
at 6pm in the Library

   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.



Previous  Talks:

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.


FALL 2023

For more details see

Seven women Oxfordshire artists in metal, glass and ceramics show enticing offerings for the dull winter months.

Julie Grose and Sophie Thompson in metal, Harriet Coleridge,

Sally Dorrity and Laura Laube in ceramics and Anne Arlidge and Judith Berger in glass. Add an outdoor element to your gift-giving for long-term delight..


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.


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

             Honorary President: Sir Adam Roberts, KCMG, FBA