FAQ for readers


Where are you located? On the corner of Broad Street and Parks Road. The reader entrance is located on Parks Road.

What are the opening times? The Weston Library reading rooms are open 9am-7pm on weekdays, 10am-4pm on Saturdays. The reading rooms are closed on Sundays.

Please note that there is no fetching/delivery service after 4pm on weekdays. There is a limited fetching/delivery service from the Weston Library stacks on Saturdays, last fetching time being 3pm.

Are your facilities served by lift and stairs? Yes, they are.

Is power provided at all reader seats and study carrels? Yes, it is.

Is Wi-Fi is available through all reader areas? Yes, it is. You need to logon using your reader’s card number and library password, which is initially set to your date of birth DD/MM/YYYY but usually changed to something individual. Reset your password.

Is there a café in this building? The Headley Tearoom on Level G serves drinks and light refreshments for staff and readers. The Bodleian Café in the Blackwell Hall is open to the general public.

Where are the toilets? Male toilets are on Level G and Level 5. Female toilets are on Level 1 and Level 5. Unisex accessible toilets are on Level G, Level 1, and Level 5.

Where are the lockers? The main set of lockers is on Level G. For more information please refer to the reader information leaflet. Please note that lockers are coin-operated. (You'll need to use a £1 coin, which will be returned to you when you open the locker.)

I don't have a £1 coin to use the locker. Can you change this note for me? There is no cash facility in the reading room – there is a change machine at the bottom of the south staircase in the Old Bodleian Library.

Do you have facilities for visitors with disabilities? The building and its reading rooms are wheelchair accessible. In the reading rooms we have adjustable chairs and height-adjustable desks available. For more information, please see refer to the reader information leaflet.

Which reading room do I use? Please refer to the subjects guidance on the reading rooms page.

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Specialist assistance in the library

Is there a Reader Enquiries area? Yes, on the first floor.

What are the contact details for the Special Collections Reading Rooms enquiries?

Email: specialcollections.enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk for general Special Collections enquiries and specialcollections.bookings@bodleian.ox.ac.uk for bookings of visits and pre-orders, or tel: 01865 277150

Is there a librarian/curator/specialist who can help me? Yes, there are librarians and curators on duty daily and others are based in the Weston Library who may be called upon.

I think I've found a mistake in your catalogue. Should I report it? Yes, please provide full details to a member of staff. These will be passed on to the Bibliographic Maintenance team. Alternatively, please complete the Bibliographic Maintenance web form.

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Ordering and consultation of Special Collections material

May I consult special collections material? A Group 'A' reader's card is required to do so. Find out more about getting a reader's card.

How do I order manuscripts and books? Material for consultation in the Weston Library may be requested in two ways:

  1. Order books online via SOLO. A full online guide to using SOLO is available.
  2. Manuscript material not available via SOLO can be ordered using green slips, which should be handed to staff in the Sir Charles Mackerras Reading Room (Level 1) and the Charles Wendell David Reading Room (Level 5). Material is then delivered to the chosen reading room reserve (or as directed by staff).

What is the delivery time for manuscripts or books that have been ordered? For material in the Weston Library stacks we aim to deliver within 2 hours. All other material (kept off-site) will be delivered within 24 hours.

How frequent is the delivery of manuscripts or books that have been ordered? On-site material will be delivered every two hours. Off-site material will be delivered twice daily, by 12noon and 4pm. Last orders for same-day delivery of material held on site is 4pm on weekdays and 3pm on Saturdays. 

How do I order Special Collections material kept in Duke Humfrey's Library? Material at Arts End and in the central bays can be consulted in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room in the Weston Library. Orders should be placed in the Weston Library and will be fetched daily.

Where do I collect material I have reserved? At the Reserve Desks in our reading rooms

Do I wait while the material is being fetched? No, you may leave the reading room and return later or the next day.

May I order material in advance? Yes, by emailing us or placing the orders in person and telling us when you would like to come in.

May I take this rare book/manuscript to my study carrel? No, only modern printed books can be taken to study carrels. Please ask library staff if you have questions on the use of carrels. 

How many items can I order/hold on reserve at any one time? Up to a maximum of 10. We will issue up to 4 bound items of special collections or one box of unbound material at a time.

How long will the book/manuscript remain here & (how) may I renew it? The default reserve period is one week, but this may be extended if no one else needs the item. Books are renewed online via the SOLO patron record, but manuscripts or other material requested manually are reserved by virtue of updating the (white) reserve slip.

I ordered a book from SOLO this morning/yesterday/last week. When is it going to arrive? Depending upon the location of the item, it will either be about 1 hour from the Weston Library stacks, or 24 hours if housed off-site in the Book Storage Facility in Swindon, or in Duke Humfrey's Library stacks, or the University Archives. For more information, please see refer to the reader information leaflet.

What is a 'select' manuscript or 'restricted' printed book? May I get permission to see them? A 'select' manuscript or 'restricted' printed book is a book or manuscript of particular importance. Access to such items is restricted and microfilm surrogates or published facsimiles (if they exist) are routinely issued. To consult original 'select' manuscripts or 'restricted' books an application must be made in advance to the relevant curator (as advised), detailing the need to consult the original manuscript and explaining why the surrogate is not adequate.

Do I need to book a place? No, but we still recommend that travelling and/or prospective readers notify us of a planned visit, so that we can advise on availability of material and reserve it in advance if necessary.

May I sit anywhere? In general, seats are not allocated, except in the case of 'select' or other material with restricted access, in which case seats close to the invigilation desk in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room must be used. Outsize material, maps and digital media are consulted in areas specific for their use.

I have an important book in another reading room and a manuscript which I am consulting here relates to it. May I transfer one or the other to the same reading room? Material located/consulted in the Weston Library may only be read there. Transfers between reading rooms in Weston Library may be arranged, depending on the material in question. An exceptional arrangement would have to be made to transfer a book from the Bodleian Library to the Weston Library.

May I transfer this book to another reading room that is open longer? No, all the rooms in the Weston Library have the same opening hours. Nothing may be transferred out to another reading room (in the Bodleian Library).

Is it OK to leave a special collections item on the desk while I go to lunch/take a short break? Can I leave my laptop as well? You may leave your laptop, but the Library cannot take any responsibility for it. Special collections items must be returned to the reserve if you are leaving the building. If you are leaving the reading room for a short time, you may leave material on your desk, but not select (strong room) material.

May I keep these items in the reserve for a week/a month/until I return? You may retain them if you are returning within the week, otherwise they will be returned to the stacks and have to be re-ordered.

May I keep my items on a trolley & look at them together? In exceptional circumstances and by prior arrangement with staff this may be possible. It will depend upon the collection.

There are a few of us working on the same manuscript. Can we use a Group Study Room? Group consultations may be possible at the discretion of staff and by special arrangement.

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Catalogues and open-shelf material

Where are the catalogues of special collections material? There are several types of Special Collections catalogues detailed online. Published and typescript catalogues are on the open shelves in the relevant reading rooms.

Do you have a subject guide to special collections? Yes, we have a published subject guide: A subject guide to collections ed. Gregory Walker, Mary Clapinson and Lesley Forbes (Bodleian Library, 2004). For more information, please consult our online Special Collections subject guides.

I'm looking for College manuscripts. Are they in the Bodleian Library? Several Oxford Colleges have deposited their medieval manuscripts with us. Details may be found via Oxford LibGuides. Post-medieval manuscripts are mainly retained by colleges.

Do you have a card index of the books on the open shelves? No, all printed books are catalogued online via SOLO, which provides precise open-shelf locations.

Do you have a plan of the layout of the open shelves? Yes, we have plans for the reading rooms open-shelf provision.

May I reserve open-shelf books? No, all open-shelf books are replaced before the Library opens each day.

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Equipment and copying of library material

Are there PCs for readers to use? Yes in the reading rooms and in the Reader Enquiries Area. They are intended for searching online catalogues primarily, not for long-term use.

I need to use the PCs but I've forgotten my password. Can you change it for me? You can reset your password on the Library passwords page on SOLO.

Do you have equipment to play audio tapes/records/discs? Yes, the Music section staff have such equipment please apply to the Reader Enquiries desk.

May I use my laptop/iPad/Tablet/ digital camera? Yes, but digital self-photography requests are subject to issues of conservation, ownership and copyright. Such pictures can be taken for personal research purposes only. Photography without flash, tripod or copying stand is allowed at one’s desk. There is no designated area for photography.

May I use my personal scanner? No, they are not allowed in the Special Collections reading rooms.

Do you have an ultra violet lamp? Yes, please request one from a member of staff. 

Do you have equipment helping examine watermarks? Yes, a fibre-optic light source. Please ask for one from the staff.

How do I get copies of a microfilm? You may order prints from Imaging Services, use a reader-printer, use the digital scanner and download images to a memory stick or simply take screen shots with a digital camera, all subject to copyright/owner’s restrictions.

May I photograph this book/manuscript? In general this is possible, but subject to conservation, copyright and ownership issues. Staff should be asked for guidance. Images taken are for private research purposes only.

May I photocopy these papers? Subject to copyright/ownership restrictions, unbound material may be photocopied by our Photocopying staff. Order forms for personal collection are available on application to the staff. In general the turnaround is 3 days.

Where is the nearest printer/photocopier? In the Reader Enquiries Area. (Outside the Reading Rooms on Level 1).

I need to put some money on my PCAS account. Do you take cash? No, credit should be added using a credit or debit card. There is a PCAS cashloader at the Main Enquiry Desk in the nearby Bodleian Library.

How can I get good quality images of Special Collection material? Imaging Services provide a full service of high resolution photography. The supply time is 20 working days. See Imaging Services for methods, costs and order form. 

May I photograph/photocopy a thesis? A mediated photocopy order may be placed for a thesis which is designated as being open for copying, but no self-digital photography is allowed. Some theses require the prior written permission of the author before copying is permitted. Staff guidance is required in each instance.

How do I go about publishing images I’ve bought or taken myself? You should apply to Imaging Services. An application form 'to reproduce' with costs may be downloaded from their website. 

How do I use the microform reader & is there a microfilm catalogue? Staff can instruct you in their use. We have a very large and disparate collection of microforms. There is no single catalogue of microforms, some are catalogued online while others are only listed in typescript or in card indexes. It will depend on the subject of the microfilm contents. Staff will guide you accordingly.

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Care of the Collections

I've discovered a tear/loose page/other conservation issue. Should I report it? Yes, please provide full details to a member of staff, who will record the damage online and pass it on to a conservator.

These pages are uncut. What should I do? Either we will issue a paper knife with instructions how best to cut the pages or a member of staff will do it. For particularly difficult or rare books we would refer such a request to conservators.

What are your most important collection care rules readers should observe?

  • Bags and cases should be left in the lockers.
  • Pencils only or laptops should be used.
  • No food or drink is allowed in the Weston Library with the exception of the Headley Tearoom.
  • Bound manuscripts and rare books should be placed on appropriate-sized foam book-rests (provided in the reading room).
  • Loose documents are used flat on the desk and may be gently held in place by cotton-linked weights (known as snakes) which are available from the staff desk.
  • Cotton gloves are not generally used for consultation at the Bodleian Library; we recommend clean dry hands instead.
  • Only one box or file of loose documents can be consulted at a time.
  • Illuminations or any written area of a special collections item should not be touched. A slip of acid-free paper may be used to follow a written text.

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Other questions

I thought you closed at 7pm, so why is the bell ringing early? The Library closes at 7pm - the bell announces to readers that we close the reading rooms 10 minutes before the Library building closes.

How can I claim my lost property? Enquiries about lost property can be made at any of the Security/Reader Enquiries desks, to a member of staff within a Reading Room or to the Facilities Office (by Tel.: 01865 277100 or by email to security@bodleian.ox.ac.uk).

Where is Duke Humfrey's Library/the Gladstone Link/the Old Bodleian Library? Our Find Us page includes a map of the central Bodleian site and of individual library locations. 

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Page last edited 6 April 2020

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