Located in central Oxford in a complex of historic buildings, the venerable Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. It’s the main research library for the University of Oxford and also a copyright library, housing every book printed in the UK and Ireland, a collection of more than 12 million printed items. The Basics
The historic core of the Bodleian Library is clustered around Radcliffe Square and includes the 15th-century Duke Humfrey’s Library and Divinity School, the 17th-century Old Schools Quadrangle, the 18th-century Clarendon Building and Radcliffe Camera, and the modern Weston Library.
While the Old Schools Quadrangle can be viewed for free and the Divinity School for a fee, other areas can only be accessed through a guided (short, standard, or extended) tour. Many Oxford sightseeing tours, whether on foot, by bike, or Harry Potter
focused, will include a stop at the Bodleian Library. Visit on a hop-on hop-off bus tour to see other city sites at your leisure. Day trips from London often feature a stop here and can also be combined with visits to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, the Cotswolds, or Stratford-upon-Avon. Things to Know Before You Go
- The Bodleian Library is a must-visit for book lovers and Harry Potter fans.
- Photography is not permitted in working areas of the library.
- Bags, including handbags, must be left in lockers during guided library tours.
- Guided library tours are not wheelchair-accessible, as there are stairs involved.
- Children under the age of 10 are not permitted on guided library tours.
- Free Wi-Fi is available at the Bodleian Library’s Weston Library.
How to Get There
The Bodleian Library is located in central Oxford. Of the six entrances, the recommended entrance is the main entrance on Catte Street, using the Great Gate, which provides direct access to the Old Schools Quadrangle. When to Get There
The Bodleian Library is open daily during the school term and closed on Sundays during vacations. It is usually closed from around December 20 to January 2, over the Easter holidays, and for the August bank holidays. Short and standard tours are offered daily, while extended tours are offered only certain days of the week. The Bodleian’s Collection
In addition to printed items, the Bodleian Library also houses special collections, which include rare books and manuscripts, classical papyri, music, art, and maps. A portion of the collection can be viewed online through the Bodleian Library’s image portal or in the exhibition galleries at the Bodleian Library’s Weston Library.