Getting started: How to use my Bodleian Reader card

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 access most of our libraries.

All Bodleian Reader card holders are eligible to use any library during University vacations (please follow the Dates of Term table).

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.

The Weston Library is open throughout the year to all readers who wish to consult special collections material (including University students of all levels).

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).

For advice on modern material or if you wish to pre-order up to 6 items, please contact at least five days working days (Monday – Friday) before your booked appointment with the Admissions Office.

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.

Some of our online resources are available to Bodleian Reader card holders offsite:

  • Open Access eresources – use the Open Access filter in SOLO to find journals, articles and books that are available to all to read
  • Databases – many of our databases are also open to all. Please look for the circle symbol in our Databases A-Z.

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.

Special collections catalogues and finding aids

Accessing material at the Bodleian Libraries

You can access open-shelf material in our reading rooms straight away.

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.

Instead, please email with the details of the items from SOLO you would like to consult five days prior of your anticipated visit.

Accessing our special collections

Applicants who wish to access special collections material will need to contact the team at least 48 hours 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.