Oxford Library United Kingdom. The Bodleian Library
The world-famous Oxford libraries have been attracting students, scholars and culture-seekers from all over the globe since they first opened in 1602. One of the most famous of these is the Bodleian Library.
It is the principal research library of Oxford University, a non-lending reference library that holds over 13 million books and is one of six legal deposit libraries in the UK. It is also a repository for manuscripts and printed materials.
The Bodleian Libraries
The Bodleian Libraries are among the most celebrated in the world, not only for their collections of books and manuscripts but also for their buildings, some of which have remained in continuous use since the Middle Ages.
The Libraries hold more than 13 million printed items, over 80,000 e-journals and outstanding special collections including rare books and manuscripts, classical papyri, maps, music, art and printed ephemera.
The Library is a key part of Oxford’s cultural life and leads an exciting programme of public exhibitions and events to engage communities with its collections. Visitors are welcome to take tours of the Old and New Libraries or visit our digital collections online.
The Bodleian Collections
The Bodleian Collections are a world-famous collection of books, manuscripts and artefacts. They are housed in a cluster of five buildings near Broad Street, known as the Bodleian Libraries.
The Bodleian's collections began to take shape around the middle of the 15th century, when Duke Humfrey's Library was opened in a room in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. The following year a Schools Quadrangle was built, designed to replace the 'ruinous little rooms' that had been used for lectures and examinations.
The Bodleian Map Collection
The Bodleian Map Collection holds one of the world's largest collections of maps. These range from the Gough Map, believed to be the first surviving map of Britain, to the Selden Map and a late Ming watercolour map of trade routes in the South China Sea.
The Library also has a significant antiquarian (pre-1850) collection, including the c.1390 “Gough Map”, the oldest surviving geographically-recognisable map of Great Britain. There are also manuscript portolan charts, which were designed for safe passage at sea.
The Bodleian Music Collection
The Bodleian Music Collection, consisting of books, manuscripts and recordings, is one of the largest in the UK. It has received legal deposit of printed music since the 1780s and is one of the most important collections of its kind in the world.
The Music collection is also home to one of the world’s two major collections relating to Felix Mendelssohn. It contains autographs, letters, drawings and other personal papers.
The Bodleian Art Collection
The Bodleian Art Collection is part of the world-famous research libraries of Oxford University. Its 13 million items include manuscripts, archives, rare books, printed ephemera, maps, music and digitized collections in libraries across Oxford.
The library’s rich history means that it has a wide variety of artefacts and collections spanning more than 400 years. Among them are works by famous artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli; historical artefacts, from the Magna Carta to the Alfred Jewel; and scientific treasures, including living plants.
The Bodleian Poetry Collection
The Bodleian Library has a large collection of books from all over the world. These include works of literature, history, science, and many other disciplines.
The Library also houses a selection of materials from the 17th and 18th centuries. These include books of poems by Shakespeare, Donne and others.
The Library is a legal deposit library, meaning that it holds copies of all of the books published in the UK. This has helped to preserve culturally important books that were not allowed for publication in the UK due to obscenity laws.
The Bodleian Science Collection
The Bodleian Science Collection contains many important collections, including those relating to medicine, chemistry, physics and the sciences. These include collections of medical and scientific books, artefacts, maps and manuscripts.
The Bodleian Libraries also house a large collection of printed ephemera, including posters, postcards and advertisements. These materials provide an exciting insight into British history.
The Bodleian Special Collections
The Bodleian Special Collections hold manuscripts and archives, rare books, printed ephemera, maps, music and digitized collections. These range from the medieval to the modern.
The library's extensive holdings of medieval manuscripts are a world-class resource for the study of this period. They include illuminated texts - such as Bede's Acts of the Apostles (MS. Laud Gr. 35) - but also modest textual manuscripts.
Medieval Germany is well represented in the Bodleian's manuscript holdings, particularly by the manuscripts rescued from German ecclesiastical libraries and bequeathed by William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor of Oxford University.