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The Ruskin Library specializes in fine art, art history and theory, art techniques, and human anatomy, with a particular focus on twentieth-century and twenty-first century materials, complementing the research collections of the Bodleian and Sackler Libraries.
The Library at High Street Photograph: Jon Roome

The library houses over 5,000 volumes in its two reference and lending collections. There is a further deposit of 1,000 reference volumes in the Sackler Library. The Ruskin holds around 20 sets of art journals and more than 2,000 art-related pamphlets. 

The library is fully integrated into the University’s electronic circulation system and a digital archive of the slide collection, comprising 15,000 images, is available on the departmental server. Ruskin library terminals offer full access to the electronic resources of the Oxford University, most notably The Grove Dictionary of Art, ARTbibliographies, the ARTstor Digital Library, The Bibliography of the History of Art, The Design and Applied Arts Index, Art Abstracts, and e-Journals (including JStor), among numerous others.

On display in the library each year, is some anatomical work by the winner of the Human Anatomy Prize.  This is awarded to a first year undergraduate student for outstanding performance in Human Anatomy in their Preliminary Examination in Fine Art.

In 2018, the winner of this award was Emily Stevenhagen (St Catherine's) who shares her experience of studying anatomy at the Ruskin:  

"The anatomy module, taught in the first year of the fine art course at The Ruskin School of Art, makes up 15% of the final preliminary grade. Over the year students are taught about the various functions and locations of individual bones and muscles in the human body and are encouraged to make drawings of what they learn. One unique part of the course takes place in the second term, where classes move to the dissection room. This is a really rare and amazing opportunity (which no other art school provides) for students to study from cadavers and other preserved materials, to enhance their knowledge of human anatomy and visualise what has been taught in the more theoretical classes that take place up until this point. I found this an extremely enriching experience, and have taken a lot from it and the course more generally. With my current practice, and work at the time, focused largely on painting, particularly figurative painting, learning so much about human anatomy has helped me immensely, to improve my life drawing skills and therefore my paintings, causing me to look at the human body in a different way."

Emily was invited to display some of her anatomy work in the library, 'Dissected Forearm & Hand' (2018)

"This piece presents an interpretation of the anatomical layers of the human forearm and hand. It shows an anterior view of the bones, deep, intermediate and superficial muscle layers and the dorsal interosseous muscles of the hand, the palmar aponeurosis of the hand, the veins, arteries and nerves, and finally the layer of skin. Each layer is presented next to one another, intended to act as a simplified teaching prop, and is inspired by the style of cabinets of curiosities also known as 'Wunderkammer'." Emily Stevenhagen, BFA

The library is available to non-Ruskin University of Oxford students and staff for research by appointment (and for reference only). Please contact the Librarian at: to make an appointment and bring your University of Oxford card with you on arrival.