New Official Papers Reading Room opens at the Bodleian Law Library

18 November 2010

Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian, and Professor Timothy Endicott, Dean of the Faculty of Law, formally opened the new Official Papers Reading Room at the Bodleian Law Library today. The establishment of the new reading room on the ground floor of the St Cross Law Library is part of a major estates and technology transformation to improve services to readers within the Bodleian Libraries. The new reading room has been refurbished from what was, originally, closed book stacks.

Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian, said, “Our Official Papers collection is one of the most important in the world and for too long it has been hidden away in a corner of the Underground Bookstore beneath the Radcliffe Camera. By uniting this collection with our Law collection in one building, the Libraries are able to provide readers with a single location for their research and cross referencing in matters to do with legal history, legislative history, medieval historical records, studies in international law and international organizations.”

Ruth Bird, Bodleian Law Librarian, said, “The Bodleian Law Library now holds a collection that is similar in its breadth to the great law libraries of the world, where government papers have always been seen as part of their law collections. Housing the collection in the Law Library, which is located next to the Social Sciences Library, provides a more convenient point of access for social science researchers in a variety of fields.”

The Official Papers collection in the Bodleian Library consists of a comprehensive set of British parliamentary papers from 1801 to the present, as well as earlier records of the proceedings of parliament and non-parliamentary papers.  Government papers of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the republic of Ireland are also held. The publications of international organisations, notably the United Nations, GATT, WTO, OAS, ILO, ICAO, the Council of Europe and several other international bodies form the rest of this extensive collection. The Bodleian Law Library holds the official European Documentation Centre, as well as UK Statutes, Parliamentary Records (‘Hansard’) and UN material.

The former Official Papers Reading Room was a small area of the Underground Bookstore located between the Radcliffe Camera and the Old Bodleian. Over the last three months, the Underground Bookstore has been emptied of books which are in the process of being moved to the Book Storage Facility or other Libraries. This space is now being transformed into a high-usage open bookstack and study area for students and researchers. It is scheduled to reopen in June 2011 as the Gladstone Link in honour of the Victorian Prime Minister who gave his name to the Bookstore’s iron shelving system.

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