Using the Law Library

A birdseye view six long wooden desks, four students are scattered around reading at them


  • You must hold a valid University or Bodleian Reader card to use the Bodleian Law Library.
  • If you are not a member of the University, you can apply for a Bodleian Reader card.
  • The Law Library’s secondary collection provides full runs of multiple editions of many famous and core legal texts. This, together with an extensive UK and foreign law collection, provide an excellent source of rarer materials to the legal profession. Members of the legal profession wishing to consult our book and journal collection will need to apply for a Bodleian Reader card.
  • The Faculty of Law provides more information about studying law at Oxford University.

Rules and regulations

  • The Bodleian Libraries Regulations and Rules of Conduct apply in this library.  
  • The Bodleian Law Library is a reference collection and books cannot be borrowed.  
  • Please do not leave your laptop unattended in the library. You are advised to buy a lock to secure your laptop whilst you are in the library.
  • Readers may use personal, hand-held scanners and digital cameras. The use of flash photography is forbidden. Flatbed scanners may not be used. Please be careful not to disturb other readers. 

General information

  • The library is arranged over 4 floors, all accessible by both lift and stairs. View our floorplans (PDF) or find out more about the different workspaces in the library.  
  • This library does not offer borrowing. Most of our collection is immediately available on open shelves.  
  • You are very welcome to use your laptop in the library. Find out more about connecting to the internet with Wi-Fi and using Print, Copy and Scan facilities.  
  • Please contact the Academic Services Librarian, Margaret Watson (email: if you are a new library user and would like an introduction to the library.

Library welcome


Hello and welcome to the Bodleian Law Library. The Bodleian Law Library is one of the largest academic law libraries in the United Kingdom.

We have over 300 desks and there are nearly half a million volumes on our shelves.

The library subscribes to dozens of legal databases, and our students have access to thousands of e-books.

Our collections cover the laws of England and Wales, and we have holdings for more than 60 other jurisdictions and for research areas that include comparative law, jurisprudence, Roman law, international law and criminology.

The library holds the university's official papers collection, which includes parliamentary papers, and we are a depository for international organisations such as the United Nations.

If you'd like to know more about the library, please go to our webpage:

There's a link to our blog and you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Layout and classification

Our collection is catalogued on SOLO. You can search SOLO in advance of your visit and make note of the call numbers (shelfmarks) of the items you would like to read. Please do ask a member of staff for more specific directions once you are in the library.

  • Subject browsing guide to KL - KN shelfmarks (Word): This guide explains the legal subject arrangement and jurisdictional arrangements for monographs relating to the laws and legal systems of England & Wales, Australia, Canada, Channel Islands, Ireland, Isle of Man, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, United States of America, and Wales.
  • Law Library floor plans (PDF): This guide explains the arrangement of the open shelf collection, which extends over 4 floors. 

For help finding resources relating to a particular subject or jurisdiction, visit the Law at Oxford guide.

Special shelfmarks

The library uses the following special SOLO call numbers (shelfmarks): 

  • ‘Sec coll’: these books are held on the ground floor on open access shelves. Any member of staff will be happy to direct you to the correct area. Typically, ‘sec coll’ books are older or superseded editions.
  • ‘Locked’: these books can usually be accessed, within 10 to 15 minutes of being requested at the Enquiry Desk. However, as a lot of the material in the locked cases is old or fragile you may be asked to use a digital alternative, or sit at a designated desk use foam supports etc. Please ask a member of staff for further advice or contact in advance of your visit.
  • ‘Law Retro Staff’: this material can usually be accessed, but please ask a member of staff for further advice or contact in advance of your visit.

Other collections

The library also holds special collections and is the home of the Bodleian Library Official Papers


The library keeps a collection of the most heavily used textbooks in the Reserve Collection, behind the Enquiry Desk on Floor 2. These books are checked in and out to readers. If you need a book that is in the Reserve Collection, go to the Enquiry Desk with your University or Bodleian Reader card and ask a member of staff. 


The Bodleian Law Library holds Oxford law theses submitted for the DPhil degree, but only some of those submitted as part of BCL, MJur or MStud degrees. They are all catalogued on SOLO. Once you have identified the call number of the thesis you would like to read, please ask a member of staff to fetch it for you. Since 2007, Oxford DPhil theses have been ‘born digital’, and some older ones have been digitized. These are discoverable via SOLO but held on Oxford University Research Archive (ORA). 


The Bodleian was a European Documentation Centre from 1963 to 2020. The print material the library received as an EDC is on the ground floor of the library, near the Official Papers Collection. Learn more about this collection, including its classification scheme and finding aids, from the EDC guide.  

For more information about resources for EU law generally, see the EU Law subject guide. You may ask any member of the library staff for help, or send an email to