About the collections

Antiquarian books and grey literature
Browsing the collection
New books 


books and book cupboardThe Wellcome Unit Library is a reference-only library, intended primarily to support the needs of the University's postgraduate students and researchers in the history of medicine. It holds around 7,500 monographs, serials and theses on diverse topics, which are searchable on SOLO (Library Catalogue). Particular strengths include:

  • National and local public health administration within the UK
  • Hospitals and hospital movements (again especially within the UK)
  • Infectious diseases including and malaria and anti-malarials
  • Tropical medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Biography; medical and non-medical

New materials are purchased to maintain diversity, but also to reflect current research interests of members - currently tropical, colonial (particularly Indian), military and naval medicine, plus the history of nursing.

Full details of the Bodleian Libraries' History of Medicine Collection Policy can be downloaded as a PDF.

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Antiquarian books and grey literature

The Wellcome Unit Library holds a small number of antiquarian books and most of them are listed on SOLO.  Please ask library staff to access these books.

We also have a small collection of photographs of a World War Two blood transfusion service and some glass slides of colonial health care.  The Unit holds a number of reports and other grey literature, which is not listed on SOLO.  The Library is currently updating the handlist of this material.  Please contact us for more information about these collections. 

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Please use our online book recommendation form to suggest titles for the library to purchase.

To discuss the purchase of a new e-resource for history, please contact the Bodleian History Librarian (isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) in the first instance, as substantial costs are often involved and discussions with providers are possibly already taking place.

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In general, donations are very welcome, although the Library reserves the right to dispose of donated books should they no longer be required. If you consider your donation of books to be appropriate for the Wellcome Unit collection, then please contact the Library.

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books on a shelfBrowsing the collection

Two classification schemes are used in the Wellcome Unit Library: Library of Congress Classification and National Library of Medicine Classification.  Both schemes are subject-based, which means they can be browsed easily. The classification schemes determine the order the books are shelved in and provide the shelfmark (also called a call number or class mark) given on the spine of each book and in the SOLO library catalogue.

Library of Congress Classification

The majority of books are classified using the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) scheme.  These books are housed in Library Rooms 1 and 2.  The same scheme is used in many other Bodleian Libraries, including the Bodleian History Faculty Library, Radcliffe Science Library and Social Science Library.  These books have the location 'Wellcome Unit Library LCC Main Library' on SOLO, as shown in the image below.

SOLO screenshot of LCC shelfmarks

National Library of Medicine Classification

The remainder of the books are classified using the National Library of Medicine (NLM) scheme (the shelfmarks are mainly Qs and Ws) and can be found upstairs in the Resources Room.

SOLO screenshot of NLM shelfmark

If you have any problems locating material please contact library staff for help.

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