Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Bodlian Library Oxford University

This was easily one of top favorite visits.  Walking through the doors left me in complete and utter awe. I cannot express just how beautiful the building.  We had a fantastic tour guide; David had a terrific demeanor and really knew his stuff.  I believe that he was very impressed with our group in particular because he commented more than once about our 'scribbling' in our notebooks.  He also geared the tour specifically to our interest after learning that we were library students; very nice of him to do.  I knew that the Bodleian library provided various forms of inspiration for Harry Potter but I had no idea just how much of an inspiration it actually was in the end.  I discovered that the waiting area was used as the infirmary in the movies.  Some of the scenes were actually filmed within in the library itself and any Potter fan can tell you specific locations because the scenery is familiar.  I was very impressed by my whole viewing experience.  The Bodleian is a pioneering library in more ways than one.  It is a library that takes pride in its collection and strives to maintain the value and integrity of the entire collection.  They are approximately halfway thru digitizing their collection which is a tremendous achievement considering there are about 11 million items and it only continues to grow on a daily basis. 
I was surprised at the enormity of the collection.  I was also very much surprised that every book published is sent there.  Since it is an academic library within Oxford University, I would have expected the collection to be more academically focused.  However despite my surprise, I am still impressed by the achievements and extensive collection development that occurs on a daily basis.  
  •     Since every book published since the 1600s is sent there are 11 million items in the catalog.
  •     There are four signed Magna Carta documents in the collection.
  •     There are 250,000 items within the special collection.
  •     Their collection grows by roughly 3,000 items per week.
  •     There are 32 reading room.
  •     The operating budget is approximately 6 million pounds.
  •     There are 500 people on staff.
  •     There is a courtroom within the structure that was actually used by the university.
  •     They have the biggest Hebrew collection outside of Israel.
  •     They were the first to utilize floor to ceiling book shelves.
  •     It took five years to create the first written catalog of the collection.

I can tell that this was my favorite visit because I spent a lot at the gift shop but it was totally worth it!  Seriously though if any of you reading this blog are ever presented with the extraordinary opportunity of visiting the wonderful town of Oxford England...DO IT. It is such a great place to visit and has plenty to do and stopping by the Bodleian is a must.
The Bodleian has an impressive and interesting history.  It is certainly a history that cannot be easily conveyed in a small blog.  I encourage you to read more on the library’s expansive history by following this link.
Here is also another interesting tidbit of information.  The current Bodley librarian is American Sara Thomas.  This link will lead you directly to a message from her regarding the library.
Take some time to search through some of the treasured manuscripts in the collection.

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