An Oxford Historian
The Gladstone Link | Library Review
The punishment of the sins of historians, the Gladstone Link combines all the worst features of Oxford's libraries into one gloriously drab and life-draining dungeon.
Aesthetics - ★☆☆☆☆
Accessibility - ★★★☆☆
Seating and Workspaces - ★★☆☆☆
Facilties - ★★☆☆☆
Belinda Carlisle may well have been correct that Heaven is a place on earth. If she'd been an Oxford student, however, she'd have been well aware that Hell most certainly is, and it's called the Gladstone Link.
The Gladstone Link, known (less than lovingly) by its 'fans' as the Glink, is ostensibly a history library which, along with the Radcliffe Camera, houses the majority of history reading material throughout the course. If you're a poor soul at Oxford to study history, you're going to become well acquainted with this library.
Its novelty stems from its location. Rather ironically, it's nestled between two of Oxford's most popular libraries - the instagram-bait of the Radcliffe Camera and the sort of reliable dowdiness of the Old Bod. Crucial here is the BETWEEN, because the Gladstone Link is less a library proper and more a glorified tunnel snaking its way between the two. Yep, it's all underground. No windows. No natural light.
Spread across two floors rather than the Dantean nine, the Gladstone link is a spectacle to behold.
With neon strip lights and grated metal floors, you'd be forgiven for assuming you'd just stepped into a nuclear bunker. It would have to be a bunkers created by an interior designer with a rather strange taste, however, because the grays and whites are interspersed with some lurid reds. The shiny, squeaky tunnel connecting the Gladstone Link to the Old Bod is particularly ridiculous looking and appears to be a scene taken out of a low-budget Star Wars remake.
The real problem with the Gladstone Link is its seating. Because it's essentially a tunnel there are few places to really hideaway and get work done. People passing through leaves a constant trickle of noise (not to mention the occasional dreaded tour on the weekends). All the desks feel weirdly exposed, like everyone is staring at you. The worst culprits are the strange sofas scattered around, with tables far too low to actually work on.
Even Hell has its benefits, however, and there are a few bonuses to the much-maligned library. For one, there are few better monastic cells in which to lock yourself away in when you desperately need to finish a piece of work, away from the temptations of normal life. If you can't get it finished here, you can't get it finished anywhere....
But the main advantage is, undoubtedly, the twirly-whirly bookcases. Trapped underground, winding about huge cases of books, you certainly feel like you're doing some proper, real research.
Final Verdict: 'Hell is empty and all the devils are here' - Shakespeare
Want to know more about Oxford? Find more here.
Interested in archaeology? I have recently released a set of free, online notes for the archaeology of 'Anglo-Saxon' England - this is available here.
Check out my previous articles on my own personal PhD research on Anglo-Saxon (here), Viking (here) and obscene (here) nicknames.
A new Deep-Dive article on the so-called 'New Chronology' historiographical conspiracy theory can be found here. It's received some glowingly hateful comments by conspiracy theorists...
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