Using special collections

Who can access special collections material?

We welcome academics, students of all levels and independent researchers to consult our special collections in person.

To use our rare books, manuscripts and other special collections at the Weston Library, you will need a full and unrestricted University or Bodleian Reader card with Group A access. You will usually need to request this level of access.

Some special collections material is held by individual subject libraries. Access restrictions vary, so please contact the relevant library for more information:

Oxford University students  

Oxford University undergraduates and some taught postgraduates are issued with a standard (S) reader’s card or a vacation (V) card. This does not automatically grant you access to archives, manuscripts, rare books published before 1701 or other special collections.

To request permission to consult these special collections or to find out more, contact us before you visit by emailing

External readers

If you are not a member of the University, you will need to apply for a Bodleian Reader card with Group A access to consult special collections material.

We grant access to our special collections on the basis of a reader’s research interests. You should outline your interests when applying for your Bodleian Reader card.

Planning your visit

Special collections material is consulted at the Weston Library. Find out more about the Weston Library's reading rooms and how to order special collections material ahead of your visit.

Other ways to access

For those not able to visit in person, you can view some of the special collections held by the Bodleian Libraries and Oxford's colleges online through Digital Bodleian, or our other digital collections.