Should a college library hold something that is genuinely not available in the University's libraries, then it will normally admit readers who are not members of its college. Such admittance is only by prior arrangement with the college librarian. Contact should be made in advance by letter, e-mail, or telephone; if readers "just turn up" they are unlikely to be admitted.
Use of material by external readers is on a reference basis. Borrowing may be permitted in exceptional circumstances at the discretion of library staff. If copies of the item are held in a University, faculty or departmental library, readers should seek it there. All Bodleian readers may recommend a book for purchase, and students may also ask their own college librarian.
Enquirers should search all relevant catalogues to ensure the items they require really are unique to that college; college librarians often find supposedly unique holdings of theirs (particularly pre-20th century material) are in reality duplicated many times over in the Bodleian Libraries' collections.
Most college libraries offer collections and services tailored to the needs of members of their respective colleges, typically offering long opening hours and generous lending. While most do not normally admit non-members, there are a few exceptions: some graduate college libraries with special subject strengths, such as Nuffield and All Souls, do admit some categories of non-members on application. Many college libraries also have historic or specialised research collections. These may be consulted by external readers by making an appointment with the librarian. Readers are therefore advised to consult the relevant web pages for details of admission policies.
- Committee of College Librarians, Trinity Term 2013