Order special collections

Who can access special collections material?

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

Access to a small number of particularly important and fragile items is restricted, and we ask you to consult printed or microfilm copies in their place. Images may also be available on Digital Bodleian. If you wish to consult the original item(s), 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 particular instructions for ordering by material type below.

For help and advice, please contact:

+44 (0)1865 277150

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 reading rooms via SOLO, the online library catalogue. Find out more about how to place a request.  

Some rare books are catalogued on SOLO but cannot be ordered online. You must email Special Collections Enquiries to place your order. 


Our archives and manuscripts are not available on SOLO. These materials are catalogued in a number of online and print finding aids. Items can be ordered for consultation in the Weston Library’s reading rooms. Some items are restricted or require special permission before they can be consulted.

Remote readers

To order items ahead of your visit, contact reading room staff by email (specialcollections.bookings@bodleian.ox.ac.uk), quoting the shelfmark of each item you wish to consult.

Weston Library readers

If you are in the Weston Library, you should complete a green order form for each item you wish to order (one shelfmark per slip), providing your name and your University or Bodleian Reader card number. When specifying a reading room, please use the following:

  • RR1 for the Sir Charles Mackerras Reading Room
  • RR2 for the Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room
  • RR3 for the Charles Wendell David Reading Room             

You should hand this order form to staff in the Sir Charles Mackerras Reading Room (Level 1) or the Charles Wendell David Reading Room (Level 5).


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.

For more information on ordering, see the John Johnson Collection webpage


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

For more information about finding maps, visit the Maps guide


Printed music

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

Audio recordings

The Weston Library's collection of audio music recordings is quite small, consisting largely of items which accompany books and journals. Most are catalogued in SOLO. The Music Faculty Library houses Oxford University's main collection of music recordings. For more information, please see the Music special collections guide.


Requests to access Oxford University Archives material should be made at least five working days in advance to enquiries@oua.ox.ac.uk

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.

On Saturdays there is a limited fetching service, with no fetching after 2pm. Orders placed after 2pm will be fetched on Monday.

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 or Aeon.