History of the collections
The Queen’s College collection is set apart from all other Oxford college libraries thanks to a donation of £30,000 in 1841 by Robert Mason. This is equivalent to a donation of around £3.5 million in the 21st century. Mason, an Old Member, stipulated in his will that the money had to be spent solely on the Library within three years. In order to accommodate the large number of volumes purchased with Mason’s bequest, the open arcade below the Upper Library was enclosed (following the designs of Charles Robert Cockerell, professor of architecture at the Royal Academy) to form what is now the Lower Library. The Librarian of the time showed exceptional foresight: he not only purchased a great number of modern books, but also a wide selection of the greatest editions of printed books from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. By the late 1840s Queen’s had what was probably the richest college library collection in the country.