RSL Refurbishment update

We recently went on another site visit to the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL). The team from Morgan & Sindall have done great work and things are progressing well. Walls are going up and cables for data and electricity are going in.

The refurbishment has encountered many delays, since the RSL was closed in January 2020. Along with the Covid pandemic there has been significant amounts of asbestos found in the building. A whopping 660 tonnes has been removed so now the building is safe for occupation. That’s the same weight as 66 walrusses or 66 giraffes, if you use metric.

Reading Rooms

The reading rooms upstairs look great. The shelves are up and they’re adding the lights. The big windows and lovly views are still here. The reading rooms will be filled with a mixture of the chairs selected by our readers.

Training Room

Work in the basement also continues. We’ll have a training room downstairs with a capacity for 30 people. The room will have a whiteboard and a screen. It can be filled with seats or tables can be added for smaller group work.

Wellbeing room

Our Wellbeing room will be next to the training room. You can see that it is going to be quite a large space. You can see our previous blog post for how we are going to fill the space.

Group study rooms

Along with two group study rooms upstairs we’ll also have a Teams room in the basement. The upstairs rooms will look out onto South Parks Road and there will be a comfortable waiting area outside the rooms.This will have cameras, screens and microphones equipped so full hybrid meetings on Microsoft Teams can easily take place. There will be no charge to book our group study rooms.

We’re working on creating a booking system that will work for all those who use the RSL. We’ll update you soon when the details have been finalised.

Book recommendations for EDI and Wellbeing

As part of the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) refurbishment we are planning several new developments for when the library reopens for Michaelmas Term 2023.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion projects

Silhouttes of many diverse faces layered over each other in a variety of colours.As part of its actions for supporting an inclusive culture the RSL is working on diversifying its portraiture and creating a space where everyone feels welcome, valued, and respected when it re-opens in Summer 2023. You can still contribute suggestions for our inclusive portraiture list. See our previous blog post for more details.

Wellbeing room

Close up photograph of colouring in page with a heart at the centre. There are four different colouring pencils in the cornerOur wellbeing room will be a space to promote wellbeing, relaxation and mindfulness. It will have comfortable furniture and a relaxing environment. The room will contain, games, crafts and books to help with your wellbeing. See our previous post for more details.

Book recommendations

Close up photograph of book with pages folded into a heart shape.For both our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) collection and our Wellbeing collection we are looking for recommendations. We want you to have access to the books and activities that you want and need!

For EDI recommendations, please contact

For Wellbeing recommendations, please contact

How to find the RSL

The Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) is undergoing a refurbishment at the moment so the building is inaccessible. You may have seen the boardings outside on the corner of Parks Road.

We’ll be back in the RSL for Michaelmas Term 2023 but until then you can access our books, group study rooms and excellent staff in the Vere Harmsworth Library. You can view our map below or check out our video on how to find the VHL.

Map showing how to find the RSL in VHL

Map showing how to find the RSL in VHL


RSL Wellbeing Room

The Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) will be reopening for Michaelmas Term 2023 when our refurbishment is completed. Along with reading spaces, group study rooms and individual study carrels there will also be opening a Wellbeing Room, in the RSL basement. These types of spaces are becoming more popular in libraries in recent years, especially since Covid. As well as this there will be nature imagery in the room, along with jigsaws, games, crafts and sensory toys, particularly useful for neurodiverse people.

The purpose of wellbeing spaces is to promote wellbeing, relaxation and mindfulness as such the room is being designed with soft furnishings and calming colours that evoke comfort. We plan to have a range of different comfortable seating from sofas to armchairs to bean bags. We also want the space to be flexible so that the furnishings will be easy to move.

Two green arm chairs with a small table in front

Some possible armchairs

Within the room we will have a selection of reading materials that we hope you’ll enjoy reading. Topics will include wellbeing, Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI), fiction, graphic novels and more. We are buying books now so if you have any books you would like to recommend for the wellbeing room please contact or for EDI recommendations please contact

The RSL have some great and exciting plans but the most important aspect of this space is getting input from the MPLS and MSD community. We’d appreciate any feedback but particularly from any student or staff who are responsible for wellness. We have already reached out to some colleagues but we are eager to hear a range of viewpoints.

PLans of the RSL Wellbeing room

These are our plans for the room. There’s a sofa in the corner (c-51) arm chairs at the front (c-18) and a table for games and crafts (T-21)

We’re are particularly interested to hear of any activities or events you would like to run in the Wellbeing room or any evnets you would like the RSL to host.

So if you have any book suggestions, ideas for activities or any thoughts on the room in general contact


Inclusive portraiture – our search continues

As part of its actions for supporting an inclusive culture, the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) is working on diversifying its portraiture and creating a space where everyone feels welcome, valued, and respected when it re-opens in Summer 2023.

Silhouttes of many diverse faces layered over each other in a variety of colours.

Our list of historical names is currently lacking scientists from Black, Asian, minoritised ethnic and LGBTQ+ communities connected to science and medicine at Oxford for the library re-opening in the coming summer vacation. We recognise that it may be difficult to identify individuals because the contributions and achievements of these communities have often been ignored or unfairly marginalised. However, if you know someone, let us know. We also welcome historical names from these underrepresented communities in science and medicine outside Oxford, preferably from the UK and the Commonwealth,  

  • You find inspiring and you want to highlight.
  • Who were the first in a white dominated discipline.
  • Who were not scientists but made important contributions to research.

Please contact with your suggestions.

Help us select chairs for the new RSL

The Radcliffe Science Library refurbishment is progressing well and is on target for completion later this year, and we are now at the point of selecting furniture for the new library.

We would very much like the input of our readers on this. To this end, we have six chairs set up in the Vere Harmsworth Library that we’d like you to try. Some have arms, some have wheels, some are adjustable. Let us know what you think!

Fill in the form in the VHL or email us at

Let us know your choices by 14 April 2023.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Project for the Renovated RSL: Diversifying Portraiture

The Radcliffe Science Library (RSL), part of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, is committed to supporting an inclusive culture and being a space where everyone feels welcome, valued and respected when it re-opens in Summer 2023. As part of this action, the library is launching two events to celebrate and highlight past and present contribution to science and medicine at Oxford from a diverse community.

  1. The equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) writing competition for all undergraduates in science and medicine
  2. Help the RSL celebrate equality and diversity in Science and Medicine through your nominations

The results of the competition and nomination will be part of an exhibition display when the RSL re-opens for Michaelmas Term 2023.

Nominate Outstanding Contributions to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

To support the RSL’s commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and to coincide with the RSL’s building renovations, the library is reviewing its portraiture to represent the diverse and inclusive science community. You are invited to nominate outstanding contributions of staff, students, or groups, from MPLS or MSD, who promote equality, diversity, and inclusion through their research, outreach, or daily working practices. The achievements of the successful nominees will be celebrated in the newly refurbished RSL, as part of a rotational exhibition.

Illustration of a clear box with white envelopes inside and one white envelope being added. Continue reading

Equality diversity and inclusion project for the renovated RSL: diversifying portraiture

For the equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) writing competition we have a list of historical scientists for you to choose from.

Historical Scientists

Click on the name to see more information or scroll through the whole list.

Scientists from the Medical Sciences Division

Florence Buchanan (1867-1931)
Edith Bülbring (1903-1990)
Robert Burton (1577-1640)
Mabel FitzGerald (1872-1973)
Esmé Hadfield (1921-1992)
Norman Heatley (1911-2004)
Louise Johnson (1940-2012)
Margaret Pickles (1900-?)
Victoria Smallpeice (1901-1991)
Janet Vaughan (1899-1993)
Cicely Delphine Williams (1892-1992)
Acland’s Cholera map (1815-1900)
The Oxford unknown scientist(s)

Scientists from the Mathematical Physical and Life Sciences Division

Sarah Acland (1849-1930)
Madge Adam (1912-2011)
Ethel Bellamy (1881-1960)
Mary Buckland (née Morland) (1797-1857)
Ida Winifred Busbridge (1908-1988)
Mary Lucy Cartwright (1900-1998)
Lorna Ann Casselton (1938-2014)
Dorothy Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin (1910-1994)
Maud Healey (?-19?)
Jane Kirkaldy (1869-1932)
Mary Winearls Porter (1886-1980)
Marjorie Mary Sweeting (1920-1994)
James Joseph Sylvester (1814-1897)
Nikolaas Tinbergen (1907-1988)
Charlotte Trower (1855-1928)
Monica Turner (1925-2013)
The Oxford unknown scientist(s)

Continue reading

RSL Refurbishment – Update on the project

How time flies! Back at the start of 2020 we packed up the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) and started the refurbishment project. A lot has happened to us all in that time, but none the less great progress has been made to the refurbishment. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we took down the portraits, emptied the shelves and closed the doors.

Significant work has gone on to make the building safer and more modern. You can breath easy as we have removed the asbestos. It’s no shock that there needed to be some re-wiring and things are going smoothly now that plastering has progressed.

When the refurbishment is finished the building will not only host the RSL but also Reuben College he Oxford University Museums Collections, Teaching and Research Centre (CTRC). We’re all looking forward to moving in which we can announce will happen in time for Michaelmas Term 2023.

We’re really looking forward to having a more modern space with greater adaptability. Before the refurbishment we had one group study room, after we reopen we will have four group study rooms. One will be equipped for Microsoft Teams meetings so you can conduct seemless meetings with colleagues in the room and on Teams. Although we’ll still have shelves of books, more space will be dedicated to comfortable study spaces that suit the needs of modern students and researchers. We will also have quality Wi-Fi and charge points throughout the building.

With the building coming together so well we are starting to plan for furniture. There will be a range of different seating once we open but if you have any thoughts you can always let us know on out Twitter or by emailing

Thanks to Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure Ltd for their ongoing hardwork on the refurbishment.