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Bodleian Library

Sign up for a tour to get a closer look at the priceless gems in one of the oldest libraries in the world.

The Bodleian Library has an enormous collection of books on every conceivable matter. It is the principal research library of the University of Oxford, where students use it as a reference for learning.

This library was first established in 1602 and is among the largest libraries in England. The library has five main buildings, as well as several underground vaults. As you explore, you may hear students referring affectionately to it as “Bodley” or even “the Bod.”

As is required for all non-university readers, you’ll be expected to recite a declaration stating that you won’t remove or damage any objects in the library upon entry. Some parts of the library, including the main quadrangles, are open to all visitors, but other areas, such as the reading rooms, are by guided tour only. 

Among the most treasured items in the library are the letters of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, four copies of the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible from 1455 and William Shakespeare’s First Folio, from 1623. 

Break for something to eat at the Bodleian Café, where there are sandwiches, meals, desserts and refreshments. You can purchase a souvenir, such as a mug or bag bearing an image of the library, from the Zvi Meitar Bodleian Libraries Shop.

The Bodleian Library is located between Hertford College and Exeter College in the University of Oxford. It is next to the Museum of the History of Science, the Sheldonian Theatre and the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. There are plenty of bus stops along the nearby high street, or you can walk from the center of the city. The library is open to visitors daily from morning until early evening year-round.


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