The main research library of the University of Oxford and one of the oldest of its kind in Europe, the Bodleian Library is also one of the UK’s five "copyright libraries," famously housing a copy of every book printed in Great Britain—a collection that spans more than 11 million works. Founded by Sir Thomas Bodley in 1602, the Bodleian Library, or "the Bod" as it’s known to students, is actually a complex of libraries and reading rooms located in the heart of Oxford, including the domed Radcliffe Camera, the vaulted Divinity Room, the Duke Humphrey's Library and the Old and New Bodleian Libraries.
With its towering shelves of prized books and manuscripts, exploring the Bodleian libraries is a rare treat for book lovers, with everything from early manuscripts, biblical texts and ancient maps to rare literary editions, Oriental manuscripts and a large collection of original J.R.R Tolkien works. But don’t expect to get your hands on one of the books—much of the historic library is off-bounds for non-scholars, except by guided tour, and no one is allowed to remove the books from the library—even King Charles I was famously refused permission to borrow a book in 1645.
The Bodleian Library is located in central Oxford between the Radcliffe Camera and the Sheldonian Theatre. It is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (note that some buildings may be closed on Sundays). The Bodleian’s historic quadrangles, exhibition room and shop are all free to visit, while the adjoining Divinity School charges a £1 admission. Access to the library’s reading rooms is by guided tour only.