A library was first established in the Music School of the University in 1627 with the bequest of William Heather, founder of the music lectureship. It consisted of printed books and manuscripts which were transferred to the Bodleian Library (which houses most of the University's manuscript collection) in 1885.
The basis of the present Music Faculty Library was the personal collection of Sir Hugh Allen, Heather Professor of Music from 1918 until his death in 1946. Items from the collections of John Henry Mee, C. B. Herberden, F. B. Ellis and the historian and educationalist William Henry Hadow also form part of today's library, as does the folk-song collection of Frank Howes, sometime music critic of The Times.
After being housed at a number of locations, including the old Music Faculty building at 33 Holywell Street, the library moved to St Aldate's in 1981. In the early years of the present century, the Library became part of the Oxford University Library Services and was renamed the Bodleian Music Faculty Library in 2010.
The present collection in the Bodleian Music Faculty Library may be divided into three categories: books, printed music and audio-visual materials. It consists of around 36,000 books and scores, 14,500 LPs, 5000 compact discs and a range of print periodicals (some 30 subscriptions are currently in force). Around 1000 items are added to stock each year.
The online catalogue (SOLO) can be used to find all the books and journals and about half of the printed music held in the Bodleian Music Faculty Library. Almost all of the CD collection may be found on SOLO. Tha card catalogue may be used to search for much of the LP collection, and printed music not yet on SOLO. Library staff are available to deal with inquiries, help using the card catalogue and support using the University's extensive collections of electronic resources accessed via OxLIP+.