The Bodleian Library at Oxford University

Thursday July 23rd- Today we visited Oxford and were able to take a tour of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. All that history under one roof, it was remarkable! Oxford is the oldest university in England dating back to the 12th century, and the library itself contains some amazing treasures from centuries past. Among the many fascinating things in the Bodleian collection there is an original copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets, four original copies of the Magna Carta, as well as the oldest book ever written (dating back to the 4th century). Of course treasures such as these are not available to be viewed by most, however, the fact that they are there, under the same roof (and assumingly under lock and key) is quite amazing.

The Bodleian Library was founded by Sir Thomas Bodley in 1602. Bodley’s gift of both books and money allowed the library to be built up and become the respected academic institution that it is today. From the very beginning scholars have come from all over the world to study at Oxford University and the infamous Bodleian Library, just as Sir Thomas would have wanted.

Again, thanks to Sir Thomas, in 1610 the Bodleian became a copyright library which means that it will receive one copy of every book published in England. The Bodleian Library remains a copyright library to this day. As there are so many books (and treasures) in the Bodleian it is strictly a reference library, meaning no reader may check a book out (leave the library premises with a book). In fact until the early 18th century, books were chained to the shelves to prevent scholars and readers from removing the books.

As a librarian, one dreams of setting foot inside the prestigious Bodleian Library, I feel privileged (and a bit smarter) for having had such an amazing opportunity.

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