Back to my second home

2 August 2016


By Kay Carson

Kay Carson Kellogg Blog July 2016

Kay Carson is a scholar and a DPhil student in Architectural History. Prior to undertaking doctoral studies, she graduated from Oxford with an MSt in the History of Design. Here, Kay reflects on both of her ‘first years’ and her experience of Kellogg College.

There are some places in life where you immediately feel at home. For me, Kellogg College is one such place.

My first experience of Kellogg was in 2011 when, having been accepted for the very first intake of students for the MSt in the History of Design, I attended the Induction and Coming Up Dinner. This was my introduction to college life. I nervously struck up conversations with a few other newcomers before the evening got under way. After a succession of warm and welcoming talks from Fellows and staff, I happily toted my new Kellogg book bag filled with guides and stationery, and met up with my tutor who introduced me to some other History of Design students. The delicious buffet we shared was a sign of things to come: we learnt that Kellogg had a reputation for producing excellent food! Over the years that followed, those students would become friends as we studied, debated and dined together.

I knew I would miss Oxford – and Kellogg – once I had finished my course. Luckily, however, by the time I attended my MSt graduation ceremony, I had already applied to come back. I am now studying part-time for a DPhil in Architectural History and have just completed my first year. I was as excited as ever to return, but given that I am now so familiar with the University and College, I couldn’t help wondering how it would compare with my first Kellogg encounter. Would it feel just as special? I needn’t have worried – in Michaelmas 2015, armed with an all-new Kellogg College book bag, we ‘new starters’ received a heartfelt welcome and it immediately felt as though I’d never been away.

That’s not to say Kellogg hasn’t changed. It is evolving term by term, year by year. One of the great advantages of being a new college is that there will be many ‘firsts’ to celebrate along the way. As a community, we have just celebrated our first 25 years; acquired new accommodation facilities; witnessed the election of our first Proctor, Dr Elizabeth Gemmill; and look forward to our new College Hub building. Another ongoing feature that I am thoroughly enjoying is the development of Kellogg’s library, in particular the architectural history offering.

Library assistant and cataloguer, Sam Truman, was kind enough to supply me with some facts and figures. She told me there are about 4,000 books on architectural history, including interior design and the history of planning. Together with publications on local and medieval history, and some English and French literature, this makes a rather impressive 16,000 books in total in our College library.

Sam said that approximately 95 per cent of the architectural history books have been catalogued, but the library is still a work in progress. About half the total collection is now catalogued and can be found on SOLO. The remaining books will be catalogued over time.

The reason there is such an excellent architectural history section is down to the fact that many of the books were donated by English Heritage. The library also received a sizeable donation from Sir Donald Insall on town planning which is also catalogued.

I am now looking towards my second year as a part-time DPhil student. As it turns out, my two ‘first years’ have been quite different in a number of ways – making new friends all over again; undertaking a research degree as opposed to a taught course; formulating a different type of schedule accordingly. But I am glad to say that one thing has remained constant throughout: the friendly, supportive spirit of Kellogg College. I feel pretty confident that will never change.