Getting started: How to use my Bodleian Reader card


From 21 June 2021, the Bodleian Libraries will reopen to all readers and the Admissions Office will resume a more expanded service.

We will be processing applications for first-time and renewing applicants who wish to consult material at any of the Bodleian Libraries.

To consult the special collections material at the Weston Library, please email in the first instance. You can then contact for information on completing the application process.

The Admissions Office remains closed to in-person visits.

You can find more information on our service updates page or our Twitter account.

Who are Bodleian Reader card holders?

Bodleian Reader card holders are people who are not current full members of the University of Oxford. They have made a successful application to get a reader card.

What access do I have as a Bodleian Reader card holder?

All Bodleian Reader card holders get reference-only access to printed material in the Bodleian Libraries and no borrowing privileges or remote access to subscription electronic resources.

If you need to access our special collections, you will need to put in a request as part of your statement of research need.

You will also be given a Bodleian Libraries username and password.

You can use these details to log into SOLO (the main catalogue), library PCs, the ‘Bodleian-Libraries’ Wi-Fi network and our Print, Copy and Scan (PCAS) service.

Which libraries can I use?

Currently Bodleian Reader card holders can only access the Weston Library to consult the special collections.

The following guidance applies when we return to normal access.

All Bodleian Reader card holders are eligible to use any library during University vacations.

Some libraries are available by appointment only, please check each individual library for details.

If you are eligible to use the Bodleian Libraries during term time, your access is as follows:

EU/UN papers Official Papers held in the Law Library may be consulted by any Bodleian Reader card holders throughout the year.

What material do the libraries hold and how can I find it?

General collections

Modern printed material, which includes almost all books, printed journals and newspapers, maps and music printed after 1801 (unless it is classified as part of our special collections).

You can search for this material via our library catalogue – SOLO.

You can consult open-shelf material in our reading rooms or use SOLO to request closed stack material (items not held in our reading rooms).

How to use SOLO

Electronic resources

You can access our subscription online journals, books and other digital resources only from within our libraries using a library computer or your own device logged onto our ‘Bodleian-Libraries’ Wi-Fi.

Due to licensing agreements, you are not able to access these resources outside of our libraries.

Please note that you cannot use our electronic resources for commercial purposes.

Special collections

Our collections of manuscripts, archives, rare books, music and maps.

If you wish to access this type of material, you will need to include your request in your statement of research need.

Before you begin your application, please email to discuss the material you would like to consult. 

Special collections catalogues and finding aids

Accessing material at the Bodleian Libraries

Currently, you need to book a time slot to access the libraries open to Bodleian Reader card holders.

It is not currently possible to access material on the same day as you receive your Bodleian Reader card, unless you have already booked a desk in one of the libraries.

The admission process we have in place caters for these new restrictions. Please email for more information.

Ordering closed stack material

You will not be able to order material from the closed stack via SOLO until you have your Reader card, username and password.

In order to consult closed stack material as soon as possible after you receive your Bodleian Reader card, please email for information.

Accessing our special collections

Applicants who wish to access special collections material will need to contact the team at least one week in advance of your planned visit to ensure the material is available to be consulted.


Using our special collections 

Using our library services

You are welcome to use the following library services:

Finding help

Staff are available in most reading rooms. Feel free to ask any member of staff if you require help or guidance.

Straightforward enquiries are usually resolved immediately.

If your query requires specialist subject knowledge, you will usually be referred to a senior subject librarian or member of curatorial staff. However, subject experts may not be immediately available. You can find contact details for our subject librarians.

We also have a live chat and ask a librarian services to help answer queries.