Duke Humfrey's Library

Special Collections is moving! Please check our reading room availability and where to consult collections

Special Collections will be read in the new reading rooms of the Weston Library from 29 September 2014.

  • Oriental manuscripts and Oriental rare books can be read in the Charles Wendell David Reading Room from 29 September 2014
  • Manuscripts and archives, rare books, printed ephemera can be read in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room from 29 September 2014
  • Maps can be read in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room from 29 September 2014
  • Music can be read in the Sir Charles Mackerras Reading Room from 29 September 2014

Duke Humfrey's Library will close on 26 September 2014 and reopen on Monday 13 October 2014 as an invigilated reading room supporting higher-level studies in the Humanities. Historic open-shelf material will remain in Duke Humfrey's and be transferred for consultation in the Weston Library as required, along with other special collections materials.



Special Collections in the Weston Library

Special Collections will be moving!

Duke Humfrey's Library will close on Friday 26 September 2014. All material currently read here will be available in the Weston Library. Our goal is to transfer our collections safely with minimal disruption to users. During the process some items may be temporarily unavailable. We do not anticipate that any holdings from our collection will be out of circulation for more than two weeks at a time.

More information is provided on our website.

Thank you for your patience as we progress these major projects.

Printed Maps & Music 

All printed music and maps and open-shelf books and journals relating to maps and music are (until 19 September 2014) read in Duke Humfrey's Library, with the exception of some early atlases which are read in Special Collections Reading Room.

Special Collections

Medieval & modern western manuscripts, rare books, oriental, map and music manuscripts and certain other special collections (including the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera) are (until 19 September 2014) consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room at the Radcliffe Science Library.

Further Information

If you have further questions about the moves and their impact on services, please contact Library staff as follows:

+44 (0)1865 278202

+44 (0)1865 277062 / 287300

+44 (0)1865 277013 / 287300

John Johnson Collection
+ 44 (0)1865 277047

The Library apologises for the inconvenience this may cause and would be grateful for patience and understanding on the part of readers during this time of change.


Duke Humfrey's is the oldest reading room in the Bodleian Library and is composed of three major portions: the original medieval section (completed 1487, rededicated 1602), the Arts End (1612) to the east, and Selden End (1637) to the west. It is the principal reading room for those studying codicology, bibliography and local history and, for the duration of the refurbishment of the New Library building, it is also the temporary home of the Map and Music section, with Maps occupying the Northern half of Selden End and Music the Southern half.  Duke Humfrey's Library contains both open and closed access collections and is home to the octavo, quarto and folio volumes of the old Theology (Th.) and Art (Art.) classifications. It is also the reading room in which most Oxford University theses are consulted, as well as University Archives and the Conservative Party Archive.


Duke Humfrey's Library
Old Bodleian Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG

We are situated on the first floor of the Old Bodleian Library Quadrangle. View location map

Opening hours

Weekdays  09.00-19.00
Saturdays  10.00-16.00 

Enquiries and contact information

Please ask at the staff desk (reserve) if you have any enquiries about open shelf material, the book service, or photocopying. Staff will direct you to the appropriate resource or librarian if they are unable to assist personally. Please note that the full range of services is only offered from 9.00 to 17.00 Monday to Friday, and that after 17.00 on weekdays and on Saturdays staff may refer particular enquiries to regular (weekday) employees.

Superintendent of Reading Rooms: Colin Harris

tel: +44 (0)1865 (2)77150
Collections access enquiries: access.sc@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Duke Humfrey's Library reading room staff

Principal Library Assistant: Russell Edwards
Principal Library Assistant (Maps): Stuart Ackland
Principal Library Assistant (Music): Sally Chestnutt
Senior Library Assistants: Leigh McKiernan & Anne Lawrence

tel: +44 (0)1865 (2)77151
Bookings: access.sc@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Music staff

Music Librarian: Martin Holmes
Assistants: Sally Chestnutt, Juliet Chadwick
tel: +44 (0)1865 (2)77062
Music enquiries: music@bodleian.ox.ac.uk 

Maps staff

Map Librarian: Nick Millea
Deputy Map Librarian & Geo-spatial Data Specialist : Michael Athanson
Assistants: Stuart Ackland, Debbie Hall, Tessa Rose
tel: +44 (0)1865 (2)77013 / +44 (0)1865 (2)87300
Map enquiries: maps@bodleian.ox.ac.uk 

University Archives

Email: enquiries@oua.ox.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 277145

Conservative Party Archive

Email jeremy.mcilwaine@bodleian.ox.ac.uk
Website: http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/cpa

Western Manuscripts Reference Librarian: Eva Oledzka

tel: +44 (0)1865 (2)77152
Western manuscripts research and academic enquiries: research.mss@bodleian.ox.ac.uk 


Music (open shelf)

The Music open-shelf collections are to be found in the left-hand (southern) half of Selden End of Duke Humfrey's Library. They comprise the principal reference works on music, together with runs of some prominent journals (only those journal issues which are not available electronically). A guide to the main sequences is given below:

MUS. A  Library catalogues, union catalogues (including RISM and the British Union-Catalogue of Early Music)
MUS. B  Music bibliography, including catalogues and histories of music publishers
MUS. C  General and biographical dictionaries of music
MUS. D  Non-composer thematic catalogues, chant catalogues, guides to liturgy etc.
MUS. E  General music history
MUS. F  Composer biographies (including thematic catalogues and sets of composer yearbooks)
MUS. G  Histories, bibliographies and dictionaries of musical forms (opera, song, etc.)
MUS. H  Musical instruments and performance practice
MUS. K  Reference books on jazz and popular music
MUS. PER.  Periodicals

In addition to these, there is a small supplementary section of books, comprising titles on Music Faculty reading lists, which are not otherwise included in the main open shelf sequence. These books are mostly prefixed ML or MT and are located on the east wall of the building, at the end of the main sequence.

A selection of recently acquired books on music (temporarily shelfmarked MUS. TRAY) and current issues of many music journals (not only open shelf titles) will be found on the shelves towards the end of the main open shelf sequence.

Music (bookstack)

Almost all the printed music is kept in the bookstack and has to be ordered up for use. Only about 20% of the printed music stock is at present in SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online), and many pre-1992 publications will only be found via the card catalogue located on the south side of Duke Humfrey's. (Please see the catalogue page for a more detailed explanation of the music catalogues.)

The Library's collection of musical sound recordings (only partly catalogued on SOLO) is quite small, consisting largely of items which accompany books and journals; the Music Faculty Library houses the University's main collection of music recordings.

All the Library's music books and journals can be ordered to the reading room via SOLO.

For more information, please see the Music web pages.

Maps (open shelf)

The Maps open-shelf collections are to be found in the right-hand (northern) half of Selden End of Duke Humfrey's Library. These shelves hold a range of books on the history of cartography, carto-bibliographies and mapmaking, together with works on exploration. Reference material also includes geographical encyclopaedias and there is an extensive range of atlases. There is also a selection of maps for reference. The periodicals collection has titles relating to cartography and geographic information systems. A guide to the sequence is given below.

G1  Atlases
G11  Gazetteers
G14  Map bibliographies
G15  Miscellaneous series and essays
G2  Mathematical geography
G21  Map projections
G22  Aerial photography and remote sensing
G23  Cartography
G24  History of cartography
G3  Exploration
G31  Voyages and Travels (incl. Hakluyt Society publications)
G93  Historical mapping
G94  Physical mapping
G95  Human and social mapping
G96  Economic mapping
G97  Boundary mapping
G98  Regional mapping
G99  Geographic Information Systems
G.Per.  Cartography and GIS periodicals

Maps (bookstack)

Almost all the printed map collection is kept in the bookstack and has to be ordered up for use. Although all the Library's books and journals will be found on SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online) only about 10% of the printed map stock is at present in the online catalogue, and many publications will only be found via the card catalogue, located in Duke Humfrey's.

Maps (digital)

Ordnance Survey MasterMap™ digital map data is available on a public terminal. MasterMap™ covers Great Britain at scales of 1:1,250 for urban areas, 1:2,500 for rural areas and 1:10,000 for moorland. Printed extracts of A4 size may be taken by readers within the constraints of fair dealing and the staff at the Enquiry Desk can assist readers with its use. There are three digital mapping workstations. These have MapInfo (a digital mapping program) installed and a range of digital datasets are available. Support and advice is available. 

For more information, please see the Maps web pages.

Western manuscripts (open shelf)

The  following shelfmarks are still available in Duke Humfrey's Library:

R. Top: Topography, Local History and County Periodicals
X.1-9:  Bibliography, Printing, Publishing, Children's Literature, Theatre and History of Photography

There is also a full (though not annotated) set of Bodleian Library manuscript catalogues and index cards of post-1974 acquisitions.

Most of the Special Collections and Western MSS open-access material (on Medieval and Modern Manuscripts), which used to be kept in Duke Humfreys has now been transferred to the Special Collections Reading Room.

Theology and Arts (closed access)

The 16th and 17th century Theology (Th) and Arts (Art) closed access stacks line the walls of Arts End, the Arts End galleries, and the shelves along the windows of both sides of the Medieval section of the Library. The bibliographical information of all of these materials is available on SOLO and a great number of the works are available in full text format via Early English Books Online (EEBO). EEBO should always be consulted prior to placing an order for a (Th) or (Art) volume. Please note that Art BS, Art Seld, Th BS, Th Seld, and [double letter] Th (e.g. AATh) are kept in the main bookstacks of the Bodleian, not in Duke Humfrey's Library itself.

Western manuscripts & theses (bookstack)

  • Some Rare Books and Manuscripts are still available in Duke Humfrey's, however please note that most of these collections are now consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room. A list of where collections are currently available is available on our temporary moves webpages.
  • University Archives.
  • Conservative Party Archives.
  • Most Oxford University Theses in the humanities and social sciences: D.Phil., B./M. Litt. and B./M. Phil.  

Using the collections

Access and Admissions

Readers with A cards may order manuscripts and pre-1641, special and rare books. Readers with S or V cards may not consult these materials (including all undergraduates and some taught postgraduates), but may order and read Oxford University theses.

Access to specific manuscripts and pre-1641, special and rare books may be granted to undergraduates and taught postgraduates holding S or V cards with the prior recommendation and support of their dissertation supervisor or tutor. Oxford students should deliver a letter of recommendation from their dissertation supervisor or tutor to the staff of Duke Humfrey's Library or the Special Collections Reading Room before material is requested. Modern History finalists should deliver a copy of the form provided on the Modern History Faculty website completed by their supervisor or tutor.

Undergraduates and taught postgraduates outside Oxford should always make application to consult manuscript, special and rare book collections prior to a visit, with an advance letter or email from their dissertation supervisor, supporting the request for access, and addressed to the Superintendent of the Special Collections Reading Rooms. In general admission is during Oxford University vacations, but visits during term will be considered.

For further details of the admissions' requirements and procedure, please view the Bodleian Libraries' Admissions web pages and/or contact us for our specific advice.

Advance orders

Advance manuscript orders may be placed by email. Please send the shelfmarks (up to ten), your library card number, and the exact calendar date of the intended visit to access.sc@bodleian.ox.ac.uk and manuscripts will be fetched in anticipation of your arrival.

Advice on the use of manuscript and pre-1641, special and rare book collections 

The manuscripts and books available in this reading room are part of the Bodleian's great inheritance. To help us preserve them for future generations, we ask all readers:

  1. To leave bags and cases at the main entrance with the porters;
  2. To sign in at the porter's desk at the entrance to the reading room for each session of study, and to sign out when leaving the Library; 
  3. To use pencils only or a laptop, and not to use pens, paints, obliterating or erasing liquids. The use of scanners is not permitted;
  4. To read all bound manuscripts and rare books on appropriate-sized foam book-rests, as provided in the reading room. Pages of a bound volume on a book-rest and loose documents being used flat on the desk may be gently held in place by cotton-linked weights (called 'snakes') available from the reserve. Cotton gloves are not used for manuscript consultation at the Bodleian Library;
  5. To consult only one box or file of loose documents at a time;
  6. To close manuscripts or books whenever you leave your desk, and return them to the staff desk (or reserve) whenever you leave the Library;
  7. To take great care to keep loose or fasciculed papers in order;
  8. Not to touch illuminations or any written area in a manuscript. A slip of paper may be used to follow a written text. Please do not place anything else on an open book or manuscript, or take notes on top of a manuscript or book, whether open or closed;
  9. Not to place manuscripts or books in direct sunlight.

In addition, please note that:

  1. Two or more readers may not use the same manuscript at the same time without permission from a senior member of staff;
  2. Items on exhibition are not available for readers (microfilm copies are usually available for consultation);
  3. Copying a book or manuscript by tracing, painting or rubbing is not permitted;
  4. Computers, bags, and other personal property, may not be left with staff;
  5. Desks may not be reserved, and material may not be left on a desk overnight;
  6. If the fire alarm sounds at any time readers should leave books, manuscripts and personal property at their desks and evacuate the building as quickly as possible under the direction of the staff.

Open shelf printed material

All printed materials held in Duke Humfrey's can be found on SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online).

Books, series, and journals available on the Library's open shelves will have the location Bodley BOD D.Humfrey as a prefix, followed by a shelf mark such as: R.Cat. 216c (Catalogues), MUS. EC. 2, MUS. PER. 61 or ML410.P1755 HIL 1997. A yellow slip recording reader's name, seat number and open-shelf number must be filled out and put in the place of any material removed from the shelves.

Some items held on open access in the Reading Room have RETR recorded on the online catalogue as their shelf mark. Please ask a member of staff for further information, or consult the card catalogue in Duke Humfrey's. 

Mobile steps, kicksteps, and other items of height access equipment are available to help readers retrieve open shelf books from the higher shelves of bookcases. Before using equipment of this type, please make a visual check that it is not damaged or faulty. Please take care when using the equipment, and if it is unstable, let staff know straightaway, and then find another set of steps. When using sets of steps with hooved or cup feet, please take particular care not to knock the feet against bookcases or skirting boards, as this can distort them and make the steps unstable.

Book replacing

Book replacing is undertaken every weekday morning between 8:15 and 9:00am.

Stack request (books and manuscripts)

To order material to Duke Humfrey's Library using SOLO, select the option Duke Humfrey Reserve Counter. A maximum of ten orders to Duke Humfrey's Library may be made at any one time, including non-SOLO requests.

To order manuscripts and printed items not listed on SOLO, please complete green order slips provided at the staff desks. Please use the reading room code DH and leave completed order slips for Maps/Music in the box at the Music/Maps enquiry point in Selden End and those for Western Manuscripts in the box at the Reserve at Arts End. Staff will be able to advise on the estimated delivery time which will vary according to the location of the material. There is no fetching/delivery service after 16.00 weekdays and none at all on Saturdays. Material is automatically reserved for seven days and this reservation may be renewed on request.


Computer and laptop facilities

Six computers are available at a dedicated table in Selden End for readers to consult SOLO and internet resources of academic interest.

All reader seats in Selden End are equipped with power sockets and Ethernet points, for connection to the internet (see information about using a laptop).

Please note that the 17th century bookcases in the medieval section of Duke Humfrey's Library are also equipped with sockets and Ethernet points. The power sockets are available for use but the Ethernet points have been disabled for preservation reasons.

Wireless is available throughout Duke Humfrey's Library - for more information please consult the Using a laptop page.

Printing and photocopying

PCAS allows you to pay for your prints, photocopies and scans online. Please see the Making a Copy page to set up a PCAS account.

The library offers a number of ways in which readers may obtain copies of manuscript and pre-1900 printed materials (which you cannot photocopy or scan yourself). For full details, please refer to the mediated copying page.

Material printed from computers in Duke Humfrey's can be collected within 72 hours from any photocopier in the university. Log in at the photocopier using your Bodleian reader's card and PCAS account.

Please present any items from which you wish to make photocopies to staff at the reserve. A self-service photocopying area is available in the Lower Reading Room (adjacent to Main Enquiry Desk).

Though full details of what can be copied and of other copying services are given by the making a copy page, the permission of staff on-duty is required before copying is undertaken. Please note that staff-service photocopy orders are not accepted from 30 minutes before closing.

Please note that it is now possible to take personal digital photographs of some of our material. Please ask staff for further advice and permission forms.

Microform and audio equipment

A microfilm reader and a reader/printer can be found in the Music area of Selden End. The reader-printer allows A4 reproductions of pages from microforms, with payment through PCAS (see the making a copy page for prices). Microfilm scans can also be made from the reader/printer for saving to a memory stick, currently free-of-charge. More microfilm readers are available in one of the bays on the north side of Duke Humfrey's Library.

The Music area of Selden End also houses:

  • A record player, a cassette deck and a CD player. In addition to playing such recordings as the Bodleian itself has, readers may bring in their own recordings if they wish to listen to them in conjunction with Bodleian material. A reel-to-reel tape recorder is also available on request.

Music readers may use these and personal audio devices or laptops for the purposes of listening to or playing music in conjunction with a score from the Bodleian collections but are requested, at all times, to respect the quietness of the reading room and the needs of other readers.

Codicological tools

A collator, an ultra-violet lamp, and a fibre-optic light sheet are available on application to reading room staff. 

Closing routine

This commences half an hour before closure, when windows will be closed and the foam desk rests will be tidied. Reading room computers will all be turned off 20 minutes before closure. A bell will be rung 20 minutes before closure, which is the signal for readers to stop working immediately and leave. Please ensure that you take all your belongings with you when you leave the Library. Readers cannot be readmitted if they subsequently discover that they have forgotten something.

Please note that photocopiers are turned off and that staff-service photocopy orders are not accepted from 30 minutes before closing.

Fire exits and assembly point

Exit via the North or South staircases in Arts End and the Proscholium. Assemble in Radcliffe Square, outside the railings. Readers must leave the building promptly when the fire alarm sounds or when instructed to by library staff.

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