19 November 2009
The Bodleian Library and University Library Services as part of Oxford University’s museums, libraries and archives have been awarded the prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize in recognition of their outstanding quality and their high public benefit.
The Prize, announced on the evening of 18 November at St James's Palace, London, is given in acknowledgement that Oxford’s collections are an asset for the University, the community and the nation, and represent and safeguard areas of international heritage which are of pre-eminent quality and status.
The tens of millions of objects in Oxford University’s collections form one of the largest and most important repositories in the world. The award is for seven University collections: the Ashmolean Museum, the Beazley Archive, the Bodleian Library and University Library Services, the Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum, the Museum of the History of Science, the Pitt Rivers Museum, and the University Museum of Natural History.
The seven collections not only support world-class teaching and research, but are free and accessible resources for the general public, welcoming over two million visitors annually. They also reach out through a series of award-winning education programmes, as well as sending their works of art, books, specimens and staff to schools, shopping malls and more traditional venues such as exhibition galleries. In the digital age, they are broadening their global impact to every continent.
Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: 'We are delighted with this national recognition of the value and quality of our collections. They are at the heart of Oxford’s research and teaching, but they are also a national and international resource for everybody, preserving this and other countries’ heritage. Through visits, the web, and extensive education and outreach programmes, the public shares fully in these collections and benefits from centuries of investment by the University and its generous benefactors.'
Robin Gill, Founder and Chairman of the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, commented: 'The Prizes confer the highest national recognition on the work of our universities and colleges and the part they play in the country’s economic advance, social well being and industrial self-fulfilment. It establishes a benchmark for excellence and validates the UK’s contribution to innovation, knowledge and skills on the world scene.'
The Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education is a national honour and is awarded every two years to around twenty academic units that have demonstrated the outstanding accomplishment and benefit of work. It is judged on characteristics of excellence and achievements that merit national and international interest in any aspect of an institution’s work. The benefits to the University as a centre of learning and research are considered along with an analysis of the impact that the work has on external organisations and individuals. The Prize itself comprises a Prize Medal naming the institution, a Prize Certificate signed by The Queen and the right to use the Queen's Anniversary Prize logo for a period of four years.
The Bodleian Library and University Library Services have been in existence since 1602. They meet the information needs of students, scholars, and researchers and maintain and develop access to their collections as a national and international resource. The collections span more than a millennium of the human written record, including monuments of history such as four engrossments of Magna Carta, 10,000 medieval manuscripts, a Gutenberg Bible, Handel’s conducting score of the Messiah, Islamic scientific texts, and Mary Shelley’s own manuscript notebook of Frankenstein, with proposed amendments from Percy Bysshe Shelley. Twentieth-century acquisitions include the papers of five Prime Ministers and Franz Kafka’s literary manuscripts, while 2008 saw the donation of Alan Bennett’s diaries and creative writing. A £75m renovation of the New Bodleian Library, planned for 2010-2013, will transform it from a forbidding book fortress to a modern special collections library with exhibitions galleries, a café and an auditorium.