Order special collections

Who can access special collections material?

To consult our special collections material in person, you must have a University or Bodleian Reader card with Group A (full and unrestricted) access. Find out more about how to access special collections.

We restrict access to a small number of particularly important and fragile items, and we will ask you to consult printed or microfilm copies instead. You may be able to find high-resolution images on Digital Bodleian. If you wish to consult the original item(s) in person, special application must be made to the relevant curator. We will advise you on this when you make the request.

How to place an order

To learn more about the special collections we hold, browse our finding aids and catalogues. Once you have identified material you would like to order, you can find instructions for ordering by material type below.

For help and advice, please contact:


You can have a maximum of 10 items reserved for you at any one time. We will issue up to 4 bound items of special collections or one box of unbound material at a time.  

Items on exhibition are not available for readers to consult, but surrogates may be available.


You can order books and journals (including early and rare material) to a reading room via SOLO, the University's general library catalogue. Find out more about how to place a request.  

Some rare books are catalogued on SOLO but must be requested by email. Contact Special Collections Enquiries to place your order: specialcollections.enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk


Our archival material and manuscripts are catalogued in a number of online and print finding aids, and you may need to use more than one resource to find items. Material of this type is not included in SOLO, the general library catalogue for the University's libraries.

To order this material for viewing in one of the Weston Library’s reading rooms, you will need to use the Bodleian Archives and Manuscripts Requests service (registration required). Once you have registered for the service, you can place orders via our online catalogues or by using a blank request form. Find out more about using Bodleian Archives and Manuscripts Requests.

Some items cannot be ordered using this system. If this is the case, there will be further information in the catalogue record.

Restricted items

Some items are restricted or require special permission before they can be consulted.

Remote readers

You can order items ahead of your visit using the Bodleian Archives and Manuscripts Requests service.


If you have any questions about an item, please contact specialcollections.enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.



To consult material from the John Johnson Collection, you must make an appointment in advance and order material through the John Johnson Librarian (jjcoll@bodleian.ox.ac.uk).

For more information on items in the collection and how to order them for viewing, see the John Johnson Collection webpages


Most maps are catalogued on SOLO. Many more maps can be found via the digitised card catalogue.

For more information about finding maps, visit the Maps guide


Printed music

Most printed music held by the University is catalogued on SOLO. Find out more about the catalogues for finding printed music.

Music manuscripts and archives

For more information about catalogues and finding aids for Music manuscripts and archives, visit the Music special collections guide.

Audio recordings

Use SOLO to search audio recordings held by Oxford University. The Music Faculty Library houses the University's main collection of music recordings, with a small number held at the Weston Library (largely items which accompany books and journals). For more information, please see the Music special collections guide.



Requests to access Oxford University Archives material should be made at least 5 working days in advance to enquiries@oua.ox.ac.uk. Find out more about the collection and how to access it on the OUA webpages.

Delivery times

Delivery times vary depending on the location of the material.  

Items held in the Weston Library will be fetched within 2 hours. There is no fetching or delivery service after 3.45pm on Monday – Friday. Orders placed after this time will arrive by 11am the following day.

There is currently no fetching on Saturdays.

Items held off-site will be delivered within 24 hours, Monday to Friday. This includes items held in the Book Storage Facility (BSF) in Swindon and rare book collections kept on shelves in Duke Humfrey’s Library.


Collect your requested material at the reserve desk in the relevant Weston Library reading room. Read more about using reading rooms and our guidance for using special collections material.

Material located and consulted in the Weston Library may only be read there. We may be able to arrange transfers between reading rooms in Weston Library, depending on the material in question. An exceptional arrangement must be made to transfer a book from the Bodleian Library to the Weston Library.

Reserve and renew

The default reserve period is 7 days. This may be extended if the item has not been requested by another reader. Items can be renewed online using SOLO.