Library Reopening Summer 2020


As part of the Bodleian Libraries phased reopening, the Sackler Library reopened to readers on Tuesday 25 August 2020.

Opening hours: 10AM – 4PM, Monday – Friday.

  • limited number of socially-distanced desk spaces are available, thus ensuring the continued safety of our staff and readers.
  • Readers wishing to access the Sackler Library’s collections in person need to make a reservation.
  • We have now increased reader capacity (but, for health & safety reasons, we are still not up to the 'old normal'):
    • More desks available: From Monday 21 September
    • Half-day time-slots: From Tuesday 22 September, two time-slots are available for booking:
      • 10:00-12:30
      • 13:00-16:00
  • Readers who have made only a morning booking are asked to vacate the library by 12:30. Please leave promptly to allow library staff time to clear desks and reset the reading rooms for the afternoon's readers.

To find out more, and to make a reservation, please visit:

Click & Collect

Readers who prefer not to spend time in the library may use the Click & Collect service. PLEASE use the roundabout traffic system in the Sackler's rotunda lobby when collecting / returning library books.

What to expect during your Sackler Library visit

What do I need to bring?

  • Your University or Bodleian Libraries Reader Card in order to enter the library
  • A face covering (unless you are exempt under the government guidelines)

When you arrive

  • If there is a queue to enter the library, please observe social distancing by remaining two metres behind the person in front of you.
  • You'll need to use the sanitiser provided to clean your hands when you enter the library building.
  • Give your name to the member of staff on duty and present your University or Bodleian Libraries Reader Card.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Lockers will not be available.
  • The navigational principle we are using is ‘left-hand drive’, clockwise movement.
  • Floor markings and signage will indicate where you should enter and exit the library, starting from the outer lobby.

During your visit

To keep staff and other library users safe, we ask that you:

  • Wear a face covering at all times in the library, unless you are exempt under government guidelines.
  • Do not put your face covering down on desktops or shared surfaces.
  • Wash or sanitise your hands at regular intervals, including when handling books and collections:
    • Hand-sanitisers are distributed throughout the building.
    • Use personal hand-sanitisers well away from library materials. 
  • Food & Drink:
    • No food.
    • No hot drinks.
    • Water in sealed bottles, kept away from the desks, is permitted.
    • No other cold drinks.

Sackler FAQs

Expired cards

Can I access the library if my card has expired?

No. Readers with expired cards should contact:


Can I leave belongings in a locker?

No, sorry, lockers are not available for use:

  • Please bring the minimum of items you need for your research and study needs in the library.
  • Please do not ask premises staff to look after your bags in the porter’s lodge.

Navigating the library safely

How does the library reduce interaction with other readers and staff?

A one-way, clockwise navigational system is in place throughout the library:

Reading room with clockwise arrows

  • ‘Left-hand Drive’.
  • Clockwise in the outer lobby and rotunda areas.
  • Follow the floor and wall arrows.
  • Up North Stairs.
  • Down South Stairs.
  • Using the stacks areas:
    • Floor G: Wider, two-way passage (‘left-hand drive’) between rotunda entrance and lift is fine for transit purposes.
    • Other floors: Please move from South side to North side, following signage.
  • Rolling stacks: Please clean your hands before using the rolling stacks.
    • Move from South to North.
    • Use hand sanitiser on South side bench (near the Reservation Point) before touching rolling stack ‘levers’.

The systems are signposted in the building.

Staff support for readers

What sort of assistance will library staff be able to provide when I’m in the library?

Bodleian Libraries advice is that in-person 1-2-1 reader – staff interaction be kept to an absolute minimum:

  • No cash payments accepted.
  • No staff-mediated handling: eg, issuing books to readers.
  • No in-person PCAS assistance.

If you experience difficulties please let staff know by emailing We will follow up with you as soon as possible.

If you have subject-related questions, please:

See also

Consulting library materials

Can I collect books from the open-shelf collections for myself?

Yes, collections on all five floors of the library, the Haverfield Room and the area adjacent to the Papyrology Room are open for readers to access and retrieve books and periodicals for themselves.

How about offsite materials?

Yes, materials delivered from our offsite facility will be placed on the Self-Collect shelving, as previously.

Returning books to the open shelves

What should I do with my books when I have finished with them?

  • Please do not re-shelve books yourselves.
  • Please leave books on the nearest trolley after you have finished using them.


Where can I sit?

Socially distanced Reader / PC desks are available throughout the library.

Reader / PC desks are clearly identifiable by the following 'Desk Available' sign. Please turn over the sign to 'Desk In Use' when you take the seat. Cleaning materials are available in the reading room for you to sanitise your desk before use.

Desk signs

We ask our readers not to switch desks as this reduces any virus transmission risk.


Can I use the lift?

  • Please use the stairs when possible.
  • The lift should be used only by those with a medial need for it.
  • Readers whose disabilities require lift use: Please contact the Library ahead of your visit:
  • To facilitate the transport of heavy books, readers may use the book truck, placed permanently in the lift, to send books up/down from floor to floor.
    • Readers may NOT accompany the book truck and their books in the lift.
    • Please do not remove the book truck from the lift.

Photocopying, Printing, Scanning (PCAS)

Which PCAS machines can I use?

  • Some of our PCAS machines are reserved for staff use, as we work on delivering LibraryScan and ORLO (Oxford Reading Lists Online). Please check that the machine you are accustomed to using is still available to you.

Taking breaks from Library

Can I leave the library and return during my time-slot?

  • Yes, no problem
  • You are welcome to come and go within your in-library reservation timeframe. Just remember you’ll need to queue again for re-entry:
    • Present your University or Bodleian Libraries Reader Card.
    • Use hand-sanitiser.


Can I borrow books when I’m in the library?

Yes, no problem:

  • University Card holders wishing to borrow are welcome to issue books to themselves, using the Self-Issue machine near the Exit turnstile.
  • Please be sure to use the Self-issue machine well before closing time (4:00PM).
  • Staff-mediated book handling to issue books to readers is not possible at this time.

Readers only wishing to borrow should use the Click and Collect service.

PLEASE NOTE: In accordance with the Bodleian Libraries’ access agreement with the HathiTrust, library items also accessible online via the HathiTrust database may not be borrowed.

You can read about Hathi Trust and its e-access agreement with the Bodleian Libraries during this emergency period here.

**Our access to HathiTrust's Emergency Temporary Access Service will cease 30 September 2020.**

Returning borrowed books to the library

When/How can I return the books I’ve borrowed?

  • You may return books to the Sackler Library Monday – Friday, 10:00AM - 4:00PM.
  • You do not need to book a reader / PC desk in the library just to return loans.

Reservation Points

Can I keep books on reserve?

  • Yes: If you have another in-library slot booked you may leave the books you’ve been using at the floor-appropriate Reservation Point.
  • Usual overnight reserve deadlines are suspended but please otherwise follow Reservation Point guidelines.

The Sackler Library reserves the right to modify the above policy should Reservation Points become overcrowded and unmanageable.

Closed Stack / Offsite facility items

Can I request anything from Closed Stack / Offsite facility / BSF / Swindon?

Items held in the Bodleian Libraries offsite facility (including Sackler Library materials) are designated on SOLO as ‘Closed Stack’. Deliveries resumed on 16 September. To prevent the delivery system from going into overload, we ask readers, please, not to request a lot of books at a time.

Special Collections

Can I request Special Collections items?

No, not immediately.

  • During this trial reopening period, items housed in the Archive Room, the Haskell Room, the Rare Books Room and the Wind Room will not be available.
  • Once we move towards expanded/extended reopening, special collections items will be available. Please check this web page for updates.
    • Readers will be asked to give the library 72 hours’ notice. Please contact with full bibliographical and call number/shelfmark details.
  • Library materials identifiable on SOLO as ‘[On Deposit in Ashmolean Print Room]’:


I want to donate a book to the library. Can I bring this with me?

  • We are unable to accept donations that have not been discussed (via email) with the relevant Sackler subject librarian beforehand.
  • Evidence of acceptance by the relevant Sackler subject librarian is required before donated materials can be accepted by library staff.

Other services / information

What other post-lockdown services are available?

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