Smallbone Library

The Smallbone Library occupies a pivotal space in the intellectual and academic life of Oakham School.

Covering 2,400 square metres over two floors, and housing in excess of 30,000 books, complemented by a wide range of periodicals and online resources, the Library provides space for both silent and collaborative work, with or without computers.

The Upper Library includes a dedicated room for the teaching of research skills and library-based lessons, while the Lower Library includes a seminar room with a Harkness table around which pupils and staff can discuss ideas in an open-minded and encouraging environment.

We believe that there are three ways in which the Smallbone Library can lay claim to be one of the finest school libraries in the country:

  • The space. Few school libraries offer such an attractive and stimulating working environment and on such a generous scale.
  • The resources. Our academic collection balances a substantial number of carefully chosen books with a truly impressive range of subscription databases, the majority of which you will find at university. Our well-thumbed and up-to-date fiction collection, meanwhile, bears out research demonstrating the staying power of the printed word.
  • The staff. Our investment in a team of 4 professionally qualified Librarians and 4 professionally trained Library Assistants ensures world-class instruction in how to learn for yourself from information. This also means that there is almost certainly a member of Library staff who shares your reading tastes and habits.

The Library's physical centrality means that it is a focal point for celebrating the intellectual, academic and cultural life of the School. Consequently, the Library is host to a rich variety of displays, performances, events and talks that showcase excellence across the curriculum.

Term-time opening hours:

  • Monday to Friday 08.30–21.15
  • Saturday 08.00–16.00
  • Sunday 14.00–18.00

The library has been an indispensable part of my time at Oakham and I cannot imagine my time here without it.Monty Fynn OO (14)

Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?T. S. Eliot (1888–1965) British author

I hope that the Library remains such a fantastic resource for many years to come as it certainly made my experience a lot easier.Alex Chell OO (13)

If one doesn't have words, how does one think?Iris Murdoch (1919–1999) Irish author

The Smallbone Library was a great stepping stone into… [academic] culture, helping me to transition into university life more easily.Beccy Saleeb OO (05)

Oakham has also taught me to “love the library”. I find that it [the Smallbone Library] is the perfect working environment; warm and quiet.Bob Cliffe OO (15)

What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it feels about education.Harold Howe (1918–2002) former US Commissioner of Education

Darryl Toerien

Darryl Toerien

Head of Library and Archives

Head of Library and Archives at Oakham from September 2008, I was previously Head of Library and Housemaster at Mount St Mary’s College. Before becoming a professionally qualified librarian, I was a teacher of Religious Studies & Philosophy. I am married to Jenny, a teacher of Physics, and since August 2013 we have been attending our son Reuben’s masterclass on early childhood development.