Bodleian Library

From Academic Kids

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Entrance to the Library, with the coats-of-arms of several Oxford colleges

Oxford University Libraries Service (OULS) comprises over 30 of the University of Oxford's central and faculty libraries: from the world-famous Bodleian Library, established 400 years ago, to the modern digital library ventures.



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The Radcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian

The Bodleian Library (officially Bodley's Library) in Oxford, England — known informally to centuries of Oxford scholars as "the Bod" — opened in 1602 with a collection of 2000 books assembled by Thomas Bodley (of Merton College) to replace the library that had been donated to the Divinity School by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (and brother of Henry V of England), but had been dispersed in the 16th century.

In 1610 Bodley made an agreement with the Stationers' Company in London to put a copy of every book registered with them in the library. The Bodleian collection grew so fast that the first expansion of the building was required in 1610–1612, and another in 1634–1637. When John Selden died in 1654, he left the Bodleian his large collection of books and manuscripts.

In 1911 the Copyright Act continued the Stationers' agreement by making the Bodleian one of the five libraries in the United Kingdom where a copy of each book copyrighted must be deposited. See: Legal deposit.

Two floors of bookstack opened beneath the Radcliffe Camera and Radcliffe Square in 1913, and a large new bookstack and reading room, the New Bodleian building, was built in the 1930s. A tunnel under Broad Street conects the Old and New Bodleians, and contains a pedestrian walkway, a mechanical book conveyor and a pneumatic Lamson tube system for book orders.

The Library today

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Blank Bodleian Library reader's card or 'Bod Card' - required for access to most of the library's facilities. Such cards exhibit a photograph of the reader, name, subject, academic status, and reader number, which appears below the barcode.

Today, the Bodleian includes several off-site storage areas as well as nine other libraries in Oxford:

  • the Bodleian Japanese Library
  • the Bodleian Law Library
  • the Hooke Library
  • the Indian Institute Library
  • the Oriental Institute Library
  • the Philosophy Library
  • the Radcliffe Science Library
  • the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House
  • the Vere Harmsworth Library

The sites now contain 9 million items on 176 km of shelving, and have seats for 2500 readers.

Before being able to access the library, new readers must make the following declaration.

I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.

Digital developments

The Oxford Digital Library (ODL ( is a key component of the e-strategy of Oxford University Library Services (OULS). It has been established to develop the technical infrastructure for an enhanced service, providing online access to the collections. The Bodleian Library has also [1] ( offered its support for the establishment of the JournalServer open-access digital library and allocated resources on the Oxford Digital Library Servers. The Oxford Digital Library started operationally in July 2001 and has a rich collection ( of digital archives.

The Bodleian Library in fiction

The Library's fine architecture has made it a favourite location for filmmakers. It can be seen in Another Country (1984), The Madness of King George III (1994) and the first two Harry Potter films, in which the Divinity School doubles as the Hogwarts hospital wing and Duke Humphrey's Library as the Hogwarts library.

Also, the first few words of the Latin version of the reader's promise seen above (Do fidem me nullum librum vel) can be found on the linguist's hat in the 1996 mini-series Gulliver's Travels.

Collections include

External link

fr:Bodleian Library


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