His Dark Materials author Sir Philip Pullman formally opened Exeter College Library following a multimillion-pound restoration and transformation project.

The Victorian library was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the Neo-Gothic style and originally opened in 1857.

Over the decades it has been the heart of academic life for students, including celebrated authors Sir Philip, JRR Tolkien, Alan Bennett, Sir Martin Amis, Tariq Ali, athlete and neurologist Sir Roger Bannister, and former president of Ghana John Kufuor.

Oxford Mail: Exeter College Library opened by Sir Philip Pullman

More recent former students include Turner Prize-winning artist Helen Marten, BBC journalists Reeta Chakrabarti and Sanchia Berg, and actress and writer Imogen Stubbs.

READ MORE: Convicted murderer jailed for life for Wood Farm killing

Following a year of restoration and renovation work, the library reopened to Exeter students at the start of the academic year.

It's now fully accessible and the lighting, electrics, ventilation, and environmental performance of the building have all been significantly improved.

The stonework, woodwork and oak bookcases have been restored, and where there is new woodwork, such as in the new mezzanine floor in the library annexe, outstanding craftsmanship has ensured that it is sympathetic to Gilbert Scott’s vision.

Head of Exeter College, Professor Sir Rick Trainor, said: “The library has substantially more reading spaces and better accommodation for library staff than it did before the construction began.

"Also, the building now has a lift and modern services fit for the digitised work of early 21st century students.

"In parallel there has been an emphasis on restoration. Not only is the stonework in much better shape than before, the interior of the library, with cluttering modern bookcases removed, has much more of the air and light that Gilbert Scott intended, complete with restored historic bookcases and the great bulk of existing books back in place.”

It is now named the Jackson Library in honour of the father of the project’s principal donor,  William Jackson who came to Exeter College to read Geography in 1983.

READ MORE: Wood Farm murder - police release footage

Sir Philip, an alumnus and honorary fellow of the college, said: “Look up Exeter College Library online and you will see the sort of technology that, in the words of Arthur C Clarke, is indistinguishable from magic.

Oxford Mail: Philip Pullman formally opens Exeter College library

"All that information at the stroke of a few keys on your phone. We should be walking about in a continuous state of wonder.

"You can sit at home in Argentina or New South Wales and read medieval manuscripts held safely in the archives of Exeter College in the comfort of your own pyjamas!”

He added: “Libraries are about books. Books are their heart and soul and mind and spirit.

"The library of any place of learning is the engine room, the treasure chamber, the nursery, the seedbed, the well of inspiration, the arsenal, the kitchen garden, the beacon, the lighthouse, the workshop, the glory of the past, the present and the future.

"I could not be happier or more honoured than to declare this library open.”

Among the many guests in attendance were the co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, and his wife Livia, who together contributed $1 million towards the library refurbishment.