Bodleian Libraries

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View of the main Bodleian Library building of the University of Oxford

The Bodleian Libraries are a collection of approximately 40 libraries that serve the University of Oxford in England, including, most famously, the Bodleian Library itself, as well as many other (but not all) central and faculty libraries. Together, the libraries hold 11 million printed items, as well as numerous other objects and artefacts.[1]

A major product of this collaboration has been a joint integrated library system, OLIS (Oxford Libraries Information System), and its public interface, SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online), which provides a union catalogue covering all member libraries, as well as the libraries of individual colleges and other faculty libraries, which are not members of the group but do share cataloguing information.

Its busiest library is the Social Sciences Library, which, at its peak, serves 7,500 visitors in a period of approximately nine weeks.[2]


Founded in February 2000[3] as Oxford University Library Services (OULS), the organisation was renamed on 2 March 2010.[4]

The group now cares for some 11 million items on 117 miles of shelving, and has a staff of over 400.[5] It is the second largest library in the UK (behind the British Library). The continued growth of the library has resulted in a severe shortage of storage space. Over 1.5 million items are currently stored in locations outside Oxford, including a disused salt mine in Cheshire.[6][needs update] In 2007 and 2008, in an effort to obtain better and more capacious storage facilities for the library’s collections, Oxford University Library Services (OULS) tried to obtain planning permission to build a new book depository on the Osney Mead site, to the southwest of Oxford city centre. However, this application was unsuccessful and the new Book Storage Facility was instead constructed at a site on the outskirts of Swindon.[7] This Book Storage Facility, which cost £26 million, opened in October 2010 and has 153 miles (246 kilometres) of shelving, including 3,224 bays with 95,000 shelf levels, and 600 map cabinets to hold 1.2 million maps and other items.[8]


The Bodleian Libraries group comprises seven centralised departments:[citation needed]

  • Collections and Resource Description (C&RD)
  • Communications
  • Conservation and Collection Care
  • Imaging Services
  • Oxford Digital Library (ODL)
  • Academic and Learning Services (ALS)
  • Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services (BDLSS)

The current Director of the Libraries Richard Ovenden, like his predecessors Sarah Thomas and founding director Reginald Carr, holds the position concurrently with that of Bodley's Librarian.


As of June 2014, the website of the group lists the following member libraries:[9]

A further 40 college libraries and 20 faculty and speciality libraries are not members of the group.

See also


  1. "About". University of Oxford: Bodleian Libraries. Retrieved 5 December 2012. 
  2. Thomas, Sarah. "Welcome to the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford". Retrieved 5 December 2012. 
  3. "Timeline of Bodleian Libraries Events from 2000" (pdf). Retrieved 5 December 2012. 
  4. "OULS changes name to Bodleian Libraries". 2 March 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2012. 
  5. Oxford University Library Services (2005). "A university library for the 21st century: an exhibition of proposals by the Oxford University Library services (OULS)" (PDF). University of Oxford. Retrieved 2006-02-09. 
  6. "Bodleian preparing to move stock to salt mine". Cherwell. Retrieved 2007-02-26.  Updated numbers can be found here (accessed 2009-12-28).
  7. Book Storage Facility from the University of Oxford website (accessed 2009-12-28)
  8. "Vast bookstore opens as famed library runs out of space", BBC News, 6 October 2010
  9. "Bodleian Libraries [list]". Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. Retrieved 17 June 2014.