LIS British Studies – Oxford

One of our first class visits was to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. It was interesting to be in a place with so much history associated to it. We took a tour through the Divinity School room as well as the Art’s End gallery. This library is called the Bodleian because Thomas Bodley revived it at his own expense in 1602.

There are 38 colleges at the University of Oxford and each college has its own library. The Bodleian is a read only reference library with an electronic card catalog. The library was first opened to students in 1602 and was first used solely by professors before scholars were allowed to use it. Women were not allowed in lectures at the university and were not admitted until the late 1800s.

The Divinity School room took 65 years to build. Its first purpose  was to be a lecture room. The ornate ceiling was carved by William Orchard, a stone mason. This room was also used to film some scenes in the Harry Potter movies. It was like two of my favorite things, libraries and Harry Potter, collided and I geeked out for a bit when I was there.

The Arts End gallery was upstairs right outside the library’s reading room and book shelves. This was built around 1610/1612. The gallery holds both smaller books and larger books, with the small ones above and the large ones below. These books were once chained to the shelves so as to keep people from taking them too far away and stealing them or damaging them. The librarians have an example of a chained book still on display. All around the ceiling, there were panels that include coats of arms. The space above the Divinity School room was designated to hold royally collected manuscripts.

Any book published in the country must be offered to be held at the Bodleian but not every book is accepted.



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