Bodleian Library at Oxford University

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Western Manuscripts & Rare Books, Maps and Music and Oriental Manuscripts & Rare Books.





Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Broad Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3BG

[While their permanent home is under renovation, the Bodleian's Special Collections are temporarily accessed in the Special Collections Reading Room (SCRR) in the basement of Radcliffe Science Library (RSL).]



01865 277046



Schedule & hours

Working language(s)

(what languages do you need, and what languages can you limp by on?)

Directions to the archive


Western manuscripts, printed ephemera, maps, music. Western manuscripts are archives and manuscript volumes in western languages (the majority in English and Latin). The Bodleian's collections range from classical papyri and medieval illuminated manuscripts to modern political and scientific archives and electronic records.

In addition to these archival holdings, the library's special collections include important collections of western-language rare books & printed ephemera, as well as maps and music.

Oriental manuscripts & rare books. Oriental manuscripts and rare books comprise material from the Middle East and Asia, including books, manuscripts and even paintings in languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Sanskrit and Armenian.

Rare Books in the Bodleian Library. The rare books holdings of the Bodleian Library reflect its history as the library of the University of Oxford since 1602, with strengths in theology, law, the classical tradition, and mathematics. The library also holds important collections of antiquarian and modern children's books, popular literature, and ephemera.

Research procedures


To access Special Collections, you will need either a letter of introduction addressed to the Bodleian and detailing the collections you wish to view, or you must have your recommender sign the form provided on their website. A one-week reader's card costs £5.

Permitted and prohibited items

(if possible, account for laptop computers, cameras, scanners, phones, pens and pencils, loose papers, and so on)

  • Permitted:
    • Laptops
    • Cameras
    • Pencils
  • Prohibited:
    • Pens
    • Bags
    • Food

Document ordering and delivery

(how do you request documents? how many can you order at a time? how are documents delivered?)

Photocopying, photography, microfilming

Flashless photographs of some collections are permitted. The user must simply ask if the collection is available for photography, and fill out a brief request form.

Key individuals


Lockers are available. Wifi is provided free with a reader's card, although it takes 1/2 to 1 hour to become available. Vending machines are available in a distant part of Radcliffe Science Library, which is located 0.8 miles from the train station, and buses are also available.

See also

(links to relevant websites and resources)

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