New-look Summertown Library to reopen - thanks to the local community

The North Oxford community has been working in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council’s Library Service to improve their local library.

Summertown Library will reopen on Monday (July 16) after a much-anticipated six-week refurbishment which has seen the building transformed into a bright, adaptable space with a layout much more suited to modern needs.

Inside there are:

  • new bookshelves, which will display books more effectively and attractively
  • space for events for up to 100 people
  • an expanded and relocated Children’s section to a more attractive position overlooking the Turrill Sculpture Garden at the rear of the building
  • new carpeting and fresh decoration

And the frontage has been refreshed with a smart new fascia, resurfacing, a dedicated disabled parking space and new ‘toaster-style’ cycle racks that can hold 10 bikes.

The work was made possible by a successful partnership between Oxfordshire County Council’s Library Service and the Friends of Summertown Library – a registered charity that galvanised support from the North Oxford community and beyond to raise £93,000.

The Friends' determination to see the library cemented in the heart of South Parade meant the library could be refurbished to a high standard.

Only a small amount of the funding needed for the remodelling was available from existing county council budgets, but the Friends’ large contribution - raised from charitable trusts, individual donations, corporate sponsors, and from a series of popular Library talks - together with a small sum available from the council meant the project could go ahead.

The partnership working arrangements have meant that all refurbishment work has been mutually agreed every step of the way.

Marcus Ferrar, chairman of the Friends of Summertown Library, said: “It is great to see the renovation of Summertown Library nearing completion. This is a magnificent moment for the community, who contributed over £90,000 to fund the work. We Friends have developed a good partnership with the Council’s Library Service. The Library we are remaking together will be great – I can’t wait!”

And Jillian Southwell, the county council’s Library Service Manager, said: “I also cannot wait to see the new-look Summertown Library. I am sure it will be fabulous and the community will love using it even more than the old one. I’d also like to thank the Friends of Summertown Library for their hard work and commitment to working with us to make it all happen.

“Libraries are so much more than book these days. They are a focal point for communities across the county. We run 43 libraries in Oxfordshire – many operate thanks to a band of 1,000 volunteers working with our staff. And while each of them is different, they all offer a crucial service – bringing people together. We are adapting the way in which our libraries can serve communities in the 21st century.

“For example, in Summertown Library, we have facilities and events for children; we have extended opening hours; people can get online at our computers; access council services, enjoy talks, meetings, and social events.”

Summertown Library reopens at 9.30am on Monday 16 July.

Library-goers and supporters of the Turrill Sculpture Garden can enjoy the following events during re-opening week.

For more details on event and facilities at Summertown Library visit