View of the main Bodleian Library building of the University of Oxford

The Bodleian Libraries are a collection of 28 libraries that serve the University of Oxford in England, including the Bodleian Library itself, as well as many other (but not all) central and faculty libraries. As of the 2021-2022 report year, the libraries collectively hold 13.5 million printed items, as well as numerous other objects and artefacts.[1]

A major product of this collaboration has been a joint integrated library system, OLIS (Oxford Libraries Information System), and its public interface, SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online), which provides a union catalogue covering all member libraries, as well as the libraries of individual colleges and other faculty libraries, which are not members of the group but do share cataloguing information.[2]

One of its busiest libraries is the Social Science Library, which, at its peak, serves 7,500 visitors in a period of approximately nine weeks.[3]


Founded in February 2000[4] as Oxford University Library Services (OULS), the organisation was renamed on 2 March 2010.[5]

As of the 2021-2022 report year, the group cares for 13.5 million printed items, 28,293 metres (92,825 ft) of archives and manuscripts, and a staff of 541 (full-time equivalents).[1] It is the second largest library in the UK (behind the British Library). The continued growth of the library has resulted in a severe shortage of storage space. Over 1.5 million items are stored outside Oxford. Locations formerly used included a redundant village church at Nuneham Courtenay and a disused salt mine in Cheshire.[6] In 2007 and 2008, in an effort to obtain better and more capacious storage facilities for the library's collections, Oxford University Library Services (OULS) tried to obtain planning permission to build a new book depository on the Osney Mead site, to the southwest of Oxford city centre. However, this application was unsuccessful and the new Book Storage Facility was instead constructed at a site on South Marston Industrial Estate on the outskirts of Swindon.[7] This Book Storage Facility,[8] which cost £26 million, opened in October 2010 and has 153 miles (246 kilometres) of shelving, including 3,224 bays with 95,000 shelf levels, and 600 map cabinets to hold 1.2 million maps and other items.[9] Previously-existing Osney Mead premises are used for backroom operations, including the Packing and Design Service department.[citation needed]


The Bodleian Libraries group includes centralised departments:

The current Director of the Libraries Richard Ovenden, like his predecessors Sarah Thomas and founding director Reginald Carr, holds the position concurrently with that of Bodley's Librarian since 2014.[10] Senior administrative staff are based in the Clarendon Building on the central Bodleian estate.[11]


As of August 2023, the website of the group lists the following member libraries:[12]

A further 40 college libraries and 20 faculty and speciality libraries are not members of the group.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b "About the libraries". Bodleian Libraries. Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  2. ^ "SOLO - Search Oxford Libraries Online: Coverage". Bodleian Libraries. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  3. ^ Thomas, Sarah. "Welcome to the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford". Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  4. ^ "Timeline of Bodleian Libraries Events from 2000" (PDF). Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  5. ^ "OULS changes name to Bodleian Libraries". 2 March 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Bodleian preparing to move stock to salt mine". Cherwell. Archived from the original on 23 June 2006. Retrieved 26 February 2007. Updated numbers can be found here Archived 23 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 2009-12-28).
  7. ^ Book Storage Facility Archived 15 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine from the University of Oxford website (accessed 2009-12-28)
  8. ^ Bodleian Libraries: Book Storage Facility
  9. ^ "Vast bookstore opens as famed library runs out of space", BBC News, 6 October 2010
  10. ^ "Meet Bodley's Librarian". Bodleian Libraries. Archived from the original on 28 September 2022. Retrieved 16 October 2022.
  11. ^ Ross, David. "Clarendon Building, Oxford". Britain Express. Archived from the original on 21 April 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2022.
  12. ^ "Bodleian Libraries [list]". Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. Retrieved 3 August 2023.