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Visiting the Bodleian

Southampton
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Visiting the Bodleian

Me and Mrs T visited Oxford last month but didn't get to have a tour around the Bodleian. Therefore, I am hoping to return next month to do some of the stuff we missed. Now, i'm assuming that the Bodleian isn't like any normal library where one can just turn up, mooch around and look at the books. Therefore, what is the best suggestion for a casual visit? Is it worth paying for a week long library card?

Thanks, Tongo

warrensburg,MO
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1. Re: Visiting the Bodleian

What do you "casually" want to do? As it's not a public library and is reference only, you'd be better off going on one of their regular guided tours. It's not possible to wander around and pull a book off the shelves and leaf through as in a town municipal library, almost all of the volumes are down in the stacks and are then ordered up by individual readers to use.

Southampton
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2. Re: Visiting the Bodleian

Ha ha! I was wondering whether it was possible to "casually" wander round and pull books off the shelves! So your answer has put an end to that wondering! A tour looks the best bet methinks.

I was hoping to enjoy some time in the Radcliffe Camera as well but i'm guessing this won't be possible either?!

warrensburg,MO
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3. Re: Visiting the Bodleian

Yes, stick with a tour. You'll be taken to parts of the library complex not open to the public, like Duke Humphrey, Convocation House, not sure about the Radcliffe Camera though. I think that remains private.

Oxfordshire
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4. Re: Visiting the Bodleian

ALL tours of the Bodleian (including the Radcliffe Camera) are invigilated: that is, there's a misanthrope in charge whose job is partly to stop tourists touching real books. Tours, generally, are designed to keep the masses away from anything people need to consult

Unsupervised access to the working reading rooms needs a pass, and passes need you to convince the staff you really, really need it. This isn't a formality: space is limited and has to be rationed to University members, Oxford residents and people doing real research.

Just getting interviewed for the pass (whether or not you eventually qualify) takes about an hour.

Oxford, UK
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5. Re: Visiting the Bodleian

I would recommend the tour even if you did have access - the tour is fantastic! It takes you to places most people don't get to see, like underground. It's fascinating, informative, and definitely worth doing.

Oxford, United...
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6. Re: Visiting the Bodleian

The tours do restrict you to being in a tour group, which can be inconvenient, but it is because the Bodleian is a working library, and currently host to hundreds of students revising for finals/prelims. As far as I know, the Radcliffe Camera isn't included on every tour, so check before you book.

If you do get into the Rad Cam, make sure you check out the ceiling in the upper reading room - I spent many an absent-minded hour staring up at it when I should have been studying!!

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Visiting the Bodleian

I did the tour a few years ago and it is worth doing. It is the only way a non-member can get into the library. The Radcliffe Camera was not included.

London, United...
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8. Re: Visiting the Bodleian

When do the tours take place? I will be there this afternoon (Saturday) but the website doesn't say and just gives weekday contact details.

Oxford, United...
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9. Re: Visiting the Bodleian

Unless I'm missing something I think the tour times are on the website and can be found here …ox.ac.uk/whatson/visit/individual/standard and here …ox.ac.uk/whatson/visit/individual/extended

London, United...
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10. Re: Visiting the Bodleian

Thanks pcw12kcox, it was me that was missing something although it is not the most intuitive website. I wasn't up there in time anyway but will go another time. Thanks.