Bodleian Libraries

These notes provide M-CMRS students with an introduction to the vast array of library resources which they can access during their time in Oxford.

I. Introduction

The Bodleian Libraries (with the Bodleian Library itself at their heart) provide a vast and amazing set of resources for any kind of scholarly endeavour, and should soon form an indispensable part of your studies at M-CMRS.  The sheer number of libraries in Oxford does mean that using the system can sometimes seem difficult and even intimidating. The message of these notes is that it need not be so, and that if you do get confused or frustrated there is plenty of help available.  A good place to start is the Bodleian website.

All M-CMRS students are admitted as readers at the Bodleian Libraries during a formal Admissions Ceremony soon after they arrive at M-CMRS.  This entitles you to reference-only use of all of the more than thirty Bodleian Libraries, which cover every possible academic discipline. Reference-only means you cannot remove a book from the library, but you are free to read it in situ.  This is an opportunity to work in some of Oxford’s beautiful reading rooms.

II. Search Oxford Libraries Online

Search Oxford Libraries Online (‘SOLO’) is an electronic catalogue of a large number of Oxford libraries (both printed and electronic resources).  SOLO should be available from anywhere in the world, including the comfort of your bedroom.  As well as helping you to find things, it allows you to order stack/remote items, check on the progress of your orders and create your own e-shelf.

A simple introduction to SOLO is given at the Bodleian Admissions Ceremony, but there is a more comprehensive guide online, which includes helpful video tutorials.

SOLO includes all the Bodleian Libraries and quite a number of other Oxford libraries.  M-CMRS students may use all of the Bodleian Libraries.  This includes the various faculty libraries (such as the Social Sciences Library and the Sackler), though the first time you attend each faculty library, you should speak to a member of staff, and show them your Reader’s Card to be registered.  You may wish to restrict your searches on SOLO to ‘Bodleian Libraries’ in the drop-down next to the search box.

There are a number of other useful things to remember if you are going to make best use of SOLO:

  • when signing in, select the option ‘other Bodleian card holders’ (the link on the right of the screen)
  • a stack/remote store request or reservation of a book which is out to another reader are both called a ‘Hold’
  • most libraries outside the Bodleian Library itself have most of their books in some sort of open access
  • once a stack book is sent to a reading room it becomes a ‘loan’ even though you must not remove it from the premises
  • you can use a wide number of bibliographic terms in your search, but it is most effective to combine the author’s name with key words from the title
  • if you are looking for an article/chapter in a book, you will have to look for the book, rather than the article
  • remember to sign out once you have finished making stack requests and exit your browser

If there are several copies of your book on the system, it is up to you to think through which library you would prefer to use it in.  Likewise with ordering Bodleian stack/remote store books, you should consider which of the available reading rooms you want to use. In part this is a matter of personal taste, but you may also want to consider whether you also want to use open shelf books and reference works.  Here is a useful map.

III. Electronic Resources

These also are best found through SOLO.  Regrettably, only a little of the electronic collection is accessible to ‘other Bodleian card holders’ from outside the Bodleian Libraries internet.  You should thus go to a Bodleian Libraries library to use the literally thousands of e-books and e-journals, bibliographies, databases, websites and reference works.  For most online resources, you can use your own laptop, as long as you are connected to the Bodleian internet.  For some items, though, access is restricted to Bodleian computers.  Check the access options of an item by clicking through on SOLO; usually a yellow dot next to a result means you will have to be on a Bodleian computer to access the item.  A green dot means you have to be on the Bodleian internet, but can use your own computer.  Remember, too, that you can still access Middlebury’s – or your home institution’s – electronic library resources.

IV. Getting in to your Library

Every time you go into the Bodleian or its dependent libraries you must show or swipe a current Reader’s Card.  In some libraries they will ask you to deposit bags and cases with the Porter; in others they will search them.

V. The Bodleian Library

1. Structure and Topography
2. Some Important Things to Find Out Early on as a Bodleian Reader
3. Ordering Books or Journals from the Bodleian Stack
4. Laptops & Mobile Devices
5. Photocopying, Scanning & Printing

VI. Bodleian Rules & Regulations

These are explained to you fully at the Admissions Ceremony, but for the moment the most important is: ‘No book or other item belonging to the library may be borrowed or otherwise removed from any part of the library.’  Infringing the rules may result in withdrawal of your Reader’s Card. M-CMRS would also regard any such report as a serious disciplinary matter.

VII. Some Other Bodleian Libraries

Details of the Bodleian Libraries most likely to be useful to M-CMRS students are below.  Ask the staff for information the first time that you use each individual library; it may be that you have to register.  Opening times in each library will vary between Oxford ‘full term’ and ‘vacation’.  Check the website for the list of opening hours, and for the dates of term.  A comprehensive list of libraries associated with the University of Oxford is here.

1. Bodleian Social Science Library
Address: Manor Road Building, Manor Road (on the way to St Catherine’s College)
Undergraduate-level collections in economics, international development, politics and international relations, sociology, social policy and social work, social-legal studies and criminology, and refugee studies. Reference only.  Has a cafe!

2.  Sackler Library
Address: 1 St John Street
A magnificent modern (neo-Classical) building housing a remarkable number of collections specialising in archaeology, art history, and classics (ancient history and literature).  Reference only.  Please take a £1 coin to operate a locker for any bags.

3. Bodleian Philosophy & Theology Faculties Library
Address: Radcliffe Humanities, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter.
Main university collection for theology and philosophy undergraduates; reference only.

4. Taylor Institution Library
Address: Taylor Institution, St Giles (opposite the Randolph Hotel)
A real jewel of a library primarily focused on research in modern languages and literatures (broadly defined) in which fields its holdings are world-class. Reference only.

5. English Faculty Library
Address: St Cross Building, Manor Road.
Main university collection for undergraduates reading English; reference only.