Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bodleian Library

      On Tuesday, June 30, 2015 we boarded a coach (bus) to Oxford, England. We left pretty early in the morning, but we hit morning traffic. Once we made it there we went to the Bodleian Library on Oxford University's campus. However, despite the traffic we made it there earlier than our tour was scheduled so we had some time to kill. Some of us decided to go to the cafe in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, called The Vaults and Garden. While I was there I had a scone with clotted cream and jam and a cafè latte. Both were delicious. Once it got closer to our tour time we decided to head back towards the Bodleian Library. When we got situated we were split into two groups so that we could all have a chance to see and hear the tour guide.  

       My group's tour guide was a man who is very enthusiastic about being a tour guide. He is currently in his first year of being a tour guide and has lived in Oxford for more than 10 years. He has three degrees, but none of them are from Oxford University. He started the tour off by telling us some information about the University like: there are 22,000 fee paying students, there are 10,000 support staff and professors, there are 38 colleges within Oxford University that are self-governing, women were not accepted until 1878 and were not granted degrees until the 1920s, and that each college has its own library.  

     Between the years 1423-1488 the Divinity school was built. It took 65 years to build because funds for the building would come and go. The eastern end of the school was used as the infirmary at Hogwarts from Harry Potter. Next is the Convocation House. It was built between 1634-1636 as an extension to the Divinity school and was available for use in 1640. This building is used by the professor of poetry and chancellor to make decisions and vote. The lectern in front of the throne where the chancellor or professor of poetry sits is hinged at the bottom so that it can move backwards so that they could sit down and get out of the throne so that they did not have to squeeze out. Also, there are two sundials in the windows so that the person in charge can keep track of time. 

     Next is Chancellor's Court. This room was used for legal purposes at the school for benefit of the student. At the that time, students were young males between the ages of 14-18 when their voices started to crack from maturing. However, in the 1960s they gave up their power to discipline in a court setting. But before it was closed Oscar Wilde was summoned back to the court for a hearing in the late 1800s about debts that he had not re-payed yet. Then there is Art's End. This is a 2 story extension that was built between 1610-1612. It has a wooden ceiling with the university's coat of arms in all of the tiles, but it looked like all of the tiles had different boarders. There are floor to ceiling shelves on both stories with the smaller book so no the top floor and the larger books on the first floor chained to the bookshelves. However the books are not chained still. 

(Lectern that moves)

     The floor above the Divinity School is called the Duke Humphrey's Library because of his donation of books to the library after his death. Unfortunately, about 100 years after it opened it closed and was cleared out of all the book so because of printing and the reformation. 280 books were disposed of because of religious differences out of a total between 500-600. The Bodleian has 5 of the remaining books.

     Thankfully, Thomas Bodley retired to Oxford, England. He spent his own money refurbishing the library. It took four years to do and it reopened in 1602 with 2,500 volumes. He designed the connecting buildings to help with student life at Oxford. He also, made a deal with a printing company out of London to get one copy of every book that it prints for free. This offer still stand still today and the Bodleian does reject some of the books that are offered to them. In 1912, 2 underground storage facilities were built, and another building was built in the 1930s. They currently have one off site storage facility in Swindon that is 150 miles full of storage. The library needs 3 miles of storage every year. 
     What I liked most about the tour was seeing the library.  It was very interesting to see how the books used to be chained up.  For more information about the library go to

Till next time!

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