The growth of the collection slowed down in the early 18th century, but the late 17th and early 18th centuries saw a spate of library-building in Oxford. The finest of all the new libraries was the brainchild of John Radcliffe (1650–1714). He left his trustees a large sum of money with which to purchase both the land for the new building and an endowment to pay a librarian and purchase books. The monumental circular domed building – Oxford’s most impressive piece of classical architecture – was built between 1737 and 1748 based on the designs of James Gibbs, and it was finally opened in 1749. For many years the Library, as it was called until 1860, was completely independent of the Bodleian.
Meanwhile the Bodleian’s collections had begun to grow again; more effective agreements with the Stationers’ Company, purchases and gifts meant that, by 1849, there were estimated to be 220,000 books and some 21,000 manuscripts in the library’s collection. The Bodleian also housed pictures, sculptures, coins and medals, and ‘curiosities’ (including a stuffed crocodile from Jamaica).
By 1788, the rooms on the first floor were given over to library use, and by 1859 the whole of the Schools Quadrangle was in library hands. This left more space for storing books, which was further increased in 1860, when the Radcliffe Library was taken over by the Bodleian and renamed the Radcliffe Camera (the word camera means room in Latin).