Bodleian Library

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Bodleian Library In Oxford

Bodleian Library was established at the University of Oxford by Thomas de Cobham and is the main research library of the University and one of the oldest Europe and second largest library in Britain after the British Library in London.

Under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, it is one of six legal deposit libraries for works published in the United Kingdom and under Irish Law, it is entitled to request a copy of each book published in the Republic of Ireland.

The Bodleian Library is composed of five buildings:  the 17th-century Schools Quadrangle, The 15th-century Duke Humfrey’s Library, The 18th-century Clarendon Building, The 21st-century Weston Library and The Radcliffe Camera.

In 2015, The Library’s archives were digitised and put online for Public Access. the Bodleian is particularly rich in Oriental manuscripts and collections of English literature, local history, and early printing.

Brief History of Bodleian Library.

The University library was built around 1320, inside the University Church of St Mary the Virgin and later built a new library thanks to the Duke of Gloucester, Humfrey and King Henry V’s younger brother, who donated 281 manuscripts. Construction began in 1478 and Opened to the public in 1488, It only lasted 60 years.

In 1550, the Dean of Christ Church tried to purge the English Church of all traces of Catholicism including the superstitious books and images. In 1556 the room was used by the Faculty of Medicine.

Sir Thomas Bodley, rescued the library, refurbishing it and donating over 2,500 books. On November 1602 the Library opened up, and a librarian was appointed, Thomas James. Bodley also went into an agreement with the Stationers’ Company of London under which a copy of every book published in England and registered at Stationers’ Hall would be deposited in the new library. Between 1610 and 1612 Bodley planned and financed the first extension to the medieval building, which is now known as the Arts End. Sir Thomas Bodley died in 1613.

Between 1634 and 1637 extensions to the buildings were added to the Duke Humfrey’s library, which is known as the Selden End, named after the Lawyer John Selden, who gifted the library over 8,000 books. The Library collection of Books and Manuscripts has attracted scholars from all around the world. The Library holds a Tradition that no books were to be lent to readers, This even includes royalty, King Charles I was refused permission to borrow a book in 1645.

In 1849 there was around 220,000 books and over 21,000 manuscripts in the Library, as well as pictures, sculptures, medals and coins. By 1859 the schools’ Quadrangle was made into a Library and the Radcliffe Library was handed over to the Bodleian Library, which was renamed into the Radcliffe Camera, In Latin Camera means room.

The New Bodleian building was completely renovated and reopened with large public and new academic spaces as the Weston Library in 2015.

Bodleian Library Interior in OxfordBodleian Library Contact Information

Telephone: 01865 277162 | Official Website |

How To Get There

Travelling by Train, Services from London Paddington Station and London Marylebone station travel to Oxford Station, also services from Birmingham New Street station and Reading station travel to Oxford daily. Oxford Railway Station is only 5 to 10 minutes walk from the centre of Oxford and 15 minutes away from the Bodleian Library.

The Central coach station in Oxford is at Gloucester Green in the city centre, you can get a direct coach service from London to Oxford, Coache Service X90 and the Oxford Tube both run from London to Oxford.

There are taxi ranks at Oxford Railway Station, Gloucester Green Coach Station and St Giles’ in the city centre.

Opening Hours

Monday 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Tuesday 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Wednesday 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Thursday 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Friday 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Sunday Closed


  • Architect: Giles Gilbert Scott
  • Architectural style: English Gothic architecture
  • Director: Richard Ovenden
  • Opened: November 8, 1602
  • Type Academic library
  • Members Students and fellows of University of Oxford
Bodleian Library Interior in Oxford
Bodleian Library Interior in Oxford


  • Visit the Ashmolean Museum is an Ancient and modern art and antiquities covering world civilisations, plus fine and applied arts. located only 5 minutes away from the Bodleian Library.
  • Oxford Castle is a large partly ruined Norman medieval castle, built in 1071 on earlier Saxon Defences. Located only 10 minutes from the Bodleian Library.

Where to stay in Oxford

Nearby places to stay as cheap as possible budget under £100/$100/€100:

  • Central Backpackers Oxford, Museum Hotel Oxford offers accommodation in historic Oxford in a building dating from 1594. The hotel is located a 2-minute walk from Carfax Tower in the centre of Oxford. The University of Oxford colleges is 0.2 miles away. Check Price.
  • YHA Oxford, This YHA hostel is located in the centre of historical Oxford, next to Oxford Train StationYHA Oxford offers affordable accommodation, a restaurant serving traditional meals and self-catering kitchen facilities. Check Price.
  • White House View Guest House, is a 10-minute walk from Oxford city centre and offers a garden and bedrooms with free Wi-Fi and Freeview TV. The guest house is located just off Abingdon Road, in quiet and pleasant surroundings. Check Price.

Nearby places to stay at a budget price over £200+

  • Macdonald Randolph Hotel, In the heart of Oxford, opposite the Ashmolean Museum, The Macdonald Randolph Hotel offers sumptuous bedrooms and a spa. The Randolph Macdonald is just metres from The University of Oxford Colleges.Check Price.
  • Old Parsonage Hotel is a boutique hotel set in a building dating back to 1660. It has 2 terraces, a new residents garden library, a restaurant, a bar, and is a 5-minute walk from Oxford city centre. Check Price.
  • Museum Hotel Oxford, Museum Hotel Oxford offers accommodation in historic Oxford in a building dating from 1594. located a 2-minute walk from Carfax Tower in the centre of Oxford Check Price.

Visiting Oxford? We have other posts that you may enjoy that will be helpful on your trip.


Address: Broad St, Oxford OX1 3BG | Coordinations:  51°45′14.3″N 1°15′18.5″W

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Bodleian Library