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University of Oxford: The Bodleian Library

Global Guide to Japanese Collections held at the University of Oxford

General Information

Facility: Bodleian Library
Address: Broad Street
Oxford, OX1 3BG
Phone: +44 (0) 1865 277162
FAX: +44 (0)1865 277182
Term Hours (find term dates):
Mon-Fri 9am-10pm
Sat 10am-4pm
Sun 11am-5pm
Vacation Hours:
Mon-Fri 9am-7pm
Sat 10am-4pm
More information here.

About the library:

First opened to scholars in 1602, it incorporates an earlier library erected by the University in the fifteenth century to house books donated by Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester. Since 1602 it has expanded, slowly at first but with increasing momentum over the last 150 years, to keep pace with the ever-growing accumulation of books and papers, but the core of the old buildings has remained intact. By the end of the nineteenth century the Bodleian’s book collection was growing by more than 30,000 volumes a year, and the number of books had reached the million mark by 1914.

In 1931 the decision was taken to build a new library, housing book-stacks for five million books, library departments and reading rooms, on a site occupied by a row of old timber houses on the north side of Broad Street. The new building went up to the designs of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, architect of the Cambridge University Library, in 1937–40.

Summary of Collection(s)

Notable collections:

The Library possesses an extensive collection of manuscipts and printed books, including numeorus rare items, such as incunabola, codices, and papyri.

There are also a number of manuscripts and early-printed books relating to Japan. For example, MS. Savile 48, the log-book of William Adams (1564-1620), the first Englishman known to have visited the Archipelago; kirishitanban, amongst which the first book printed from moveable type in Japan, published correspondence of the Jesuit fathers; accounts of the travels to Japanand other similar materials which illustrate Europe’s contacts with Japan between the 16th and the 19th century.


Online catalog: SOLO

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How to Use the Facility

Admission to the Library

If you are not a current member of Oxford University (employee, student, or academic visitor), you need to apply for an external reader's card at the Admissions Office. A reader's card is free for Oxford University graduates and current members of other UK universities; otherwise, charges may apply. If you are currently engaged in academic research or university-level learning, then you can apply for an external reader's card by filling in 'Form A'. In case you are engaged in private or commercial research, or if you wish to have access the Special Collections, then you need to fill in both 'Form A' and 'Form B'.

A FAQ section with information about photocopying, e-resources, etc. can be found here.

North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources
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