Date Visited: June 30, 2014
Our first library visit was to the Bodleian Library in Oxford. We all piled onto a bus and road out to Oxford University. I was really excited to see the University. I had never been to Oxford before but I had always wanted to visit. Oxford is a nice, quaint town. The campus is pretty impressive; it is amazing how old the buildings are. The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe.
We were given a tour of the library, by an older gentleman who is a volunteer at the library. At the beginning of the tour he handed out ear piece devises so it sounded like he was whispering in our ears through the device. We were given a short tour of the building before we were led up to the library. The library was very impressive. While the libraries original volumes are in Latin; it also contains volumes that are used by researchers today.
The library itself is really gorgeous. It has high ceilings and two levels. The library was originally founded in the 1400’s but after the English Reformation several of its materials were lost. The library was re-founded in the late 1500’s. When it was re-built it was designed to contain the larger volumes on the lower level and smaller volumes on the upper level. This was done to prevent theft. The upper level of the library is only accessible through a locked stair case. The librarian was the only person allowed to retrieve books from the upper level.
We were not allowed to enter the main collection of the library. It was guarded by a library clerk sitting at a desk. Our tour guide explained that there is an old library bell at the back of the collection. It is still rung every day at 16:00. Apparently it makes quite a ruckus. After the tour of the library we were led to the courtyard. In the court yard there is a statue of Thomas Bodley. There is quote in Latin above the statue. The quote is about how the library should always remain open to the public. I found it a little ironic that there is this quote and the library is not currently open to the public. Unless someone is a member of the Oxford community, or currently enrolled in a UK university, they must apply for a reader’s card and may be charged in order to obtain one.
I am really happy that I finally got to see Oxford. It was amazing to see one of the oldest libraries in Europe. The library itself is really beautiful. I now feel that I might need to go back and hear the library bell ring.