What type of material may I consult? May I pre-order material?

Depending on the type of their Bodleian Reader Card, readers may consult General Collections material, that is, modern printed material; Electronic Resources; and finally Special Collections material, where needed.

Readers hoping to view reading material on the same day as they visit for admission are strongly advised to check before their visit that the material will be available on the day, and to pre-order material following the procedure outlined below.

If reading material is not pre-ordered, we cannot guarantee that it will be possible to consult it on the same day as (first-time or returning) applicants visit us for admission.


General Collections Material

Bodleian Reader Cards allow reference-only access to General Collections material, that is, modern printed material, which includes all books, printed journals and newspapers, maps and music printed after 1800 (unless it comes under Special Collections material).

General Collections material is divided into two types: open shelf and closed stack. Holders of Bodleian Reader Cards are able to consult open-shelf modern printed material, which is held by the Bodleian Libraries in reading rooms. Closed-stack modern printed material is held offsite, in the Bodleian Storage Facility, and must be ordered into reading rooms.

Both open-shelf and closed-stack material is searchable through SOLO, the Bodleian Libraries’ online catalogue. For each search result, more information is given about the material’s location under the ‘Find and request’ tab. If it is labelled as ‘Closed stack’ or ‘Stack’ material, it will need to be ordered in advance.

Holders of a valid Bodleian Reader Card are able to request closed-stack material themselves from the catalogue (SOLO) into reading rooms, using the login details that they were given on admission.

First-time applicants for a Bodleian Reader Card or returning applicants in possession of an expired Bodleian Reader Card who wish to renew their card, are unable to request material on the catalogue (SOLO) themselves. However, it is possible to email Reader Services (reader.services@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) and to request that closed-stack material be delivered into a reading room so that it can be consulted on the same day as applicants visit for (re-)admission. Applicants hoping to consult closed-stack material on the same day as they visit for admission, must have pre-ordered material in advance of their visit.

In order to request closed-stack material, Reader Services should be contacted directly with the details of the material that is to be consulted from SOLO, within five days of the anticipated visit.

For more information about General Collections material and to pre-order closed-stack material, please contact Reader Services:

Email: reader.services@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Telephone: 01865 277162 (+44 1865 277162 from outside the United Kingdom)


Electronic Resources

Bodleian Reader Cards allow reference-only access to the great majority of e-resources to which the Bodleian Libraries subscribe. Holders of Bodleian Reader Cards do not have remote access to e-resources, and as a result readers may consult them only when they are physically in one of the Libraries.

Holders of Bodleian Reader Cards should note that the terms attached to the use of e-resources do not allow their use for commercial purposes.

Please also note that access to certain legal databases is available only to current members of staff and students at the University of Oxford.

Online subscriptions to e-journals, e-books and other e-resources available to holders of Bodleian Reader Cards are only accessible from within reading rooms. Readers may access such resources from within reading rooms, either by logging onto the computer terminals provided in the reading rooms or through the readers’ personal devices by using the wireless internet network we provide under the name of ‘Bodleian-Libraries’. To access our e-resources through personal devices, readers will need to be connected to the Bodleian Libraries’ wireless internet network as well as to SOLO, the Bodleian Libraries’ online catalogue.

Please note that international roaming services such as ‘eduroam’ will not work to provide access to our e-resources.


Special Collections Material

Applicants seeking to access Special Collections material (for instance, manuscripts or archival material of any period, ephemera, material published before 1801, material in a named collection, or other rare material) will need to make this clear as part of their ‘Statement of Research Need’ when completing the Bodleian Libraries’ Admission Form, so that guidance may be provided. In particular, applicants are encouraged to include the details of any Special Collections material that they would like to consult initially, and a statement of how this relates to their current research so that we can advise them accordingly. You may also wish to consult our catalogues of archives and manuscripts.  

If permission is granted, readers will be issued with a Bodleian Reader Card, which indicates access to Special Collections material with an ‘A’ instead of ‘S’ above the barcode. As a matter of policy, undergraduate students cannot be given direct access to Special Collections material and will need to make any necessary arrangements by contacting Special Collections prior to their visit.

Applicants wishing to access Special Collections material are strongly advised to contact the department in advance of their visit so as to ensure that material to be consulted will be available for consultation on the day of the anticipated visit.

Also, Special Collections material is normally classified as closed stack, and it will need to be pre-ordered.

Rare books which have been catalogued are searchable through SOLO, the Bodleian Libraries’ online catalogue. However, manuscripts and other archival material will be catalogued in a different format.

For more information about Special Collections material as well as specific collections, please contact Special Collections:

Email: specialcollections.enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Telephone: 01856 277150 (+44 1865 277150 from outside the United Kingdom)

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