Bodleian Library, Oxford

Bodleian Library, Oxford (must see)

The Bodleian Library is the main research library of Oxford University and if you are not a student, you can visit it on guided tours which should be booked in advance.

The Bodleian is one of the oldest reference libraries in Europe and one of the six legal deposit libraries in the UK, which means that a copy of every book published in the United Kingdom and Ireland is required by law to be deposited here.

The 1st library was founded by Thomas Cobham, the Bishop of Worcester, in the 14th century. It was a chained library – the books were chained to the shelves to stop people pinching them. In 1437 the Duke of Gloucester donated a vast number of manuscripts and the library became too small, so Duke Humphrey’s Library was built at Divinity School.

Over the years the library fell into disuse until 1598 when a Fellow of Merton College, Thomas Bodley, had the place renovated and enlarged to receive his collection of books. It reopened in 1602 and took its present-day name.

It was also Bodley who made an agreement with the Stationer’s Company in 1610 to put a copy of each of their books in the library. This agreement became the Deposit Law in the 19th century.

The library expanded in 1612 and 1637 and it became popular with Fellows to donate or bequeath their collections. The New Library was built in 1937 and a tunnel under Broad Street connects the Old and the New Bodleian.

The library holds a staggering 11 million books and other reading matter, 117 miles of shelves and 400 staff members. Among the ancient manuscripts there is a copy of the Magna Charta and the Song of Roland. It also houses one of the last copies of the Guttenberg Bible.

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of Oxford, England within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Bodleian Library on Map

Sight Name: Bodleian Library
Sight Location: Oxford, England
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) containing this sight: City Orientation Walk   Landmarks of Oxford  

Walking Tours in Oxford, England

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Jericho Walk in Oxford

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Landmarks of Oxford

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Travel Distance: 1.5 km
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Oxford University Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.7 km