Bodleian Libraries: The Story Behind Oxford’s Famous Library + Tips for Visiting 

The Bodleian Library is one of Oxford’s many gems… but how much do you really know about it?

This guide will explain everything you need to know about the Bodleian Library and how you can visit some of the library’s exquisite buildings.

Made up of 28 libraries as part of the University of Oxford, and containing more than 13 million items, it’s safe to say that the Bodleian Libraries have a reputation that precedes them.

Old Bodleian

One of the most recognisable buildings in Oxford’s roster of libraries, thanks to its Medieval-panelled frontage. 

The Divinity School

The building and room was built between 1427 and 1483 in a striking Perpendicular Gothic style, and was originally intended to be used for lectures, exams, and discussions on theology.

Radcliffe Camera

The neo-classical Radcliffe Camera was designed by James Gibbs in 1749 and its purpose was to contain the Radcliffe Science Library. 

The History of the Bodleian Library 

The University’s first library was built around 1320 in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin – a room that is still used today by those at the church.

Can You Visit the Bodleian Library? 

In short, yes. 

The majority of libraries can be accessed on tours and/or by paying a small fee.

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