Using the Music Faculty Library

A student working at a wooden desk


  • The Music Faculty Library is normally open to all members of the University and Bodleian Reader card holders, although the latter are not usually admitted during University term time.   
  • Members of the University should bring their University cards when visiting the library.  
  • Other readers are advised to email the library in advance to arrange access (if appropriate). People who are not staff or students of the Music Faculty should use the intercom by the building entrance to request admission to the library.  
  • If you are not a member of the University, find more about how to apply for a Bodleian Reader card.

Rules and regulations

The Bodleian Libraries Regulations and Rules of Conduct apply in this library. 

General information

  • The library reading rooms are spread across three floors. The library offers 34 study spaces. You can view the library floorplans online or find them inside the library.
  • The library has a Multimedia Resource Centre and an audio-visual resources room. Find out more about the audio-visual facilities available
  • Wi-Fi access is available throughout the library
  • The information desk is on the left-hand side as you enter the library.

Induction and training sessions

Basic induction sessions are provided for all new undergraduate and graduate students in 0th and 1st weeks of their first term. This includes introductions to the Music Faculty Library and the music collections of the central Bodleian Library, how to find books, scores, recordings and electronic resources in the online catalogue and some guidance on relevant databases etc, with further sessions arranged from time to time.

You may also like to check for additional courses which can help you improve your searching techniques, knowledge of useful e-resources, and organizing your citations.

Reading lists  

Most reading lists for Music courses can be found on ORLO via the University’s VLE Canvas (SSO required). Most books that are on undergraduate reading lists and likely to be in high demand are kept in the MFL’s Short Loan collection. We obtain e-book versions where possible.

Layout and classification

Most of the Music Faculty Library’s holdings are catalogued on SOLO, the online catalogue for Oxford University’s libraries, although some older music scores and recordings may still be listed only in the card catalogue. If you do not find the music materials you need in SOLO, please consult staff who will be happy to help you. You can use the library floorplans to help locate items.

If you can’t locate what you’re looking for, library staff are on hand to help. Feel free to ask us anything at the library issue desk or contact us via email or phone.   

Find out more about the library’s collections.  


The MFL’s books are arranged alphabetically by shelfmark (call number). The shelfmark is a long number with a date at the end (ML410.S932 CRO 1998). Nearly all our books are now classified to this version of the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) Scheme. A small percentage of books remain in the old broad subject categories.

Nearly all books available for loan are located on the first floor (interfiled with reference copies which are identified with a red stripe on the spine). Short-loan collection books can be found on the ground floor.

New books are displayed on shelves near the issue desk.

Although we try to make access to all library stock as easy as possible, some items are not kept on the open shelves and must be requested at the library desk. Catalogue entries for these items may be marked ‘Closed Access’, ‘Source Material’ or ‘Reserve Stock’. Some of these items may be borrowed, but most are for reference use only.


CDs are catalogued in SOLO and stored on open access. Most are in the lower ground floor corridor, normally arranged in alphabetical order by the principal composer. Our extensive collection of opera CDs is shelved separately from the main sequence, in the Library Mac Lab, along with the Jazz, Popular music and World music recordings.  

You can listen to the CDs in the library using the listening equipment provided or on personal laptops with CD drives. Members of the University may borrow CDs.

Most of our extensive LP collection is accessible via the card catalogue although many are currently still uncatalogued. Please ask staff if you would like any help locating the sound recording you require.

Naxos Music Library

In addition to the physical recording formats, the library subscribes to the Naxos Music Library (NML) and Naxos Video Library (NVL) streaming services. NML and NVL are currently available to Music Faculty students and staff only. Please ask staff in the library for details of how to access the service. You can stream tracks from Naxos services on any of the computers in the MFL using headphones, which may be checked out from the library desk. You can also listen to or view tracks using your own computer. 


The MFL has an extensive collection of printed music, not all of which is yet catalogued on SOLO. SOLO will display the item’s location. If the item is held in the Music Faculty Library, note the shelfmark and use the floorplans to locate the relevant section in the library. If the piece of music you require was published before 1991 and does not appear in SOLO, it is possible that it is still listed in the card catalogue. Please ask staff for help with using this.


In response to tightening budgets and in keeping with the current trend towards publishing and reading journals online, the MFL has recently slimmed down its collections of and subscriptions to print journals. The Bodleian Libraries subscribe to a wide selection of electronic journals, which can be accessed via SOLO while the Bodleian Library maintains many print subscriptions and has extensive back runs of music journals. Some partial runs of back issues can still be found in an alphabetical sequence on the second floor of the MFL or in closed access. Journals are for reference only and are not available for loan.