Sunday, November 23, 2014

The origin of Bodleian Library

Oxford’s university Bodleian Library, which today owns some 12 million books and manuscripts, can trace its origin back when it started in a small room, in St. Mary’s Church in Oxford’s High Street.

It was Thomas de Cobham, bishop of Worchester, established the first library at Oxford in the early fourteenth century. To this small collection were added the manuscripts of Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester in the mid-1430s.

The library fell into dissolution during the sixteenth century. So Thomas Bodley (1545-1613) offered to renovate the library in 1597/98.

With the university’s consent, the library was greatly enlarged, and in 1602 opened the soon and later renamed the Bodleian in 1604. In addition to refurbishing the library and securing the appointment of a permanent librarian, Bodley donated or persuaded others to donate, approximately 2,500 books and manuscripts to the university.

Though administered by Bodley as long as he lived, the library belonged to the university.

When the Bodleian opened in 1602, Thomas James was library-keeper. The catalogue of 1605 was his work and the result of negotiations with Bodley, who favored a disciplinary clarification of books.

The majority of the Bodleian’s priceless and ever expanding collection, however, is housed in one of three places:
*The same buildings in the heart of city that the library claimed in the 15th century and augmented in the 16th and 17th century.
*New Bodleian, build in the 1930s across the other side of Broad Street
*Network of underground caverns

The library possesses a good collection of patristic manuscripts, oriental as well as Greek and Latin. It is one of the six libraries which under the Copyright Acts can claim presentation copy of every new work published in Great Britain and Ireland.
The origin of Bodleian Library

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