Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Bodleian Library, Oxford University

The Oxford University’s first library was established in 1320. It consisted of two floors and took the master builder fifteen years to finish. The collection started with the donation made by Duke Humfrey of Gloucester. The collection grew and the library was considered completed by 1488. However, during the Reformation under the rule of Henry VIII, the collection was destroyed except for three books that survived. Along came Thomas Bodley, a protestant, graduate of Magdalene College, and a fellow, later in life left his personal library to Oxford University, hence the name the Bodleian Library. In 1610 Bodley made arrangements with publishers to ensure the library received one copy of every book published in Britain at that time. Currently there are eleven million books in the collection. It is not a lending library and only librarians can retrieve the books from the shelves. Many books in the collection are on microfische. However every college within Oxford University has a lending library.

An additional library to the campus is called the Radcliffe Camera. Originally it was a medical library established by Francis Smith of Warwick and Dr. John Radcliffe. The building itself is quite remarkable. It is a round, multi-storied structure with a domed roof that floods the interior with natural lighting.

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