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About the Bodleian Library

One of the great libraries of the world, the Bodleian is a working library which forms part of the University of Oxford. First opened to scholars in 1602, it incorporates an earlier library erected by the University in the fifteenth century to house books donated by Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester. As the largest university library in the UK, and one of five legal deposit libraries, the Library holds millions of printed items as well as manuscripts.

In its reading rooms, generations of famous scholars have studied through the ages, among them five kings, 40 Nobel Prize winners, 26 prime ministers and writers including Oscar Wilde, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien.

The Library is located in a remarkable group of buildings which forms the historic heart of the University, and you can explore the quadrangles of these magnificent structures free of charge. Our tours explore our beautiful and historic interiors, which have intricate painted and carved ceilings.

View two stunning panoramas of the historic Bodleian Libraries here.

Options for Visitors

These options are offered subject to availability. Parts of the site may be closed for University ceremonies and functions. We are open to visitors seven days a week, on most days of the year. See our opening times

For up to date information contact the Venue Services Team on: Tel: +44 (0)1865 287400 

Explore the historic quadrangles. (No charge)

Visit the Exhibition Room or our special displays to see treasures from the Libraries' magnificent collections. See our What's On pages for information. (No charge)

 
Visit the Divinity School, the first teaching room and the earliest examination hall of the University. (Charge applies)

Visit the Library’s reading rooms. These rooms are in use by academics and students, and access is only by guided tour (for individuals or groups). (Charge applies) 

Explore the quadrangles and the Divinity school using our audio guides (for individuals or groups). (Charge applies)

Shop floor

Visit the Bodleian Shop. (No charge for admission)

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