Tiphani Medlock

Tiphani Medlock

Published: 18 Sep 2023

Source: Casambi.com

The Bodleian Library, located in the historic city of Oxford, is one of the most renowned and enigmatic libraries in the world. With its rich history dating back to the 1600s, the Bodleian Library has become a symbol of learning and intellectual pursuit. Home to countless treasures and rare manuscripts, this iconic institution has captivated the imaginations of scholars, researchers, and book lovers alike.

In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of the Bodleian Library and uncover 11 intriguing facts that make it a true marvel. From its hidden book tunnels to the mysterious “Screw” staircase, each fact will give you a glimpse into the secrets and wonders housed within the walls of this magnificent library. So, grab your metaphorical library card and join us on this captivating journey through the timeless halls of the Bodleian Library.

Table of Contents

The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe

The Bodleian Library, located in Oxford, England, is a renowned institution that dates back to the 14th century. With its vast collection of books and manuscripts, it has become a treasure trove of knowledge and a hub for scholars from all over the world.

The library houses over 12 million items

The Bodleian Library boasts an impressive collection of over 12 million items, making it one of the largest libraries in the United Kingdom. From ancient manuscripts to modern publications, the library offers a diverse range of resources for researchers, students, and book lovers.

It is a legal deposit library

The Bodleian Library has the privilege of being a legal deposit library, which means that it is entitled to receive a copy of every book published in the UK and Ireland. This ensures that the library’s collection remains comprehensive and up-to-date.

The library has its own underground storage system

To accommodate its vast collection, the Bodleian Library utilizes an underground storage system known as the Book Storage Facility. This state-of-the-art facility provides optimal conditions for preserving delicate manuscripts and rare books.

The library’s architecture is stunning

The Bodleian Library’s architecture is a sight to behold. From the iconic Radcliffe Camera to the beautiful Georgian architecture of Duke Humfrey’s Library, each building within the complex showcases a unique blend of history and grandeur.

Shakespeare’s First Folio is housed in the library

The Bodleian Library is home to one of the few surviving copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio, a highly valuable and sought-after collection of his plays. This rare edition offers a glimpse into the world of one of the greatest playwrights in history.

The library has its own printing press

In addition to being a repository for books, the Bodleian Library has its own printing press. This allows for the production of limited edition publications and facilitates research in the field of printing and publishing.

It has a secret tunnel

Hidden beneath the library is a secret tunnel known as the Selden End, named after the library’s benefactor, John Selden. This tunnel served as a passageway for library staff and enabled them to access different parts of the building discreetly.

The Bodleian Library has been featured in popular films

The library’s awe-inspiring architecture has caught the attention of filmmakers, and it has made appearances in popular films such as “Harry Potter” and “The Golden Compass.” These cinematic portrayals have further solidified the library’s status as a cultural icon.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

In recognition of its historical and cultural significance, the Bodleian Library has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This prestigious designation highlights the library’s role in preserving and promoting human knowledge.

The library offers guided tours

Visitors can explore the wonders of the Bodleian Library through guided tours. These tours provide insights into the library’s history, architecture, and collection, offering a captivating experience for all who visit.


The Bodleian Library is a fascinating institution that has played a central role in academia and the preservation of knowledge for centuries. With its rich history, magnificent architecture, and impressive collection of manuscripts and books, it continues to captivate visitors from around the world. From its secret underground tunnels to its hidden treasures, the Bodleian Library truly is an enigma waiting to be explored. Whether you are a book lover, a history enthusiast, or simply curious about the mysteries of this iconic landmark, a visit to the Bodleian Library is an experience that will leave you in awe and admiration.


1. How old is the Bodleian Library?

The Bodleian Library was founded in 1602, making it over 400 years old.

2. Can anyone visit the Bodleian Library?

Yes, the Bodleian Library is open to the public, although certain areas may require pre-booking or have restricted access.

3. Is it possible to see famous manuscripts like the Gutenberg Bible?

Yes, the Bodleian Library houses an extensive collection of rare manuscripts, including the Gutenberg Bible, which can be viewed by appointment.

4. Are guided tours available?

Yes, guided tours of the Bodleian Library are available, providing a deeper insight into its history, architecture, and collections.

5. Can I take photographs inside the library?

Photography is not permitted in certain areas of the library to protect the delicate manuscripts. However, photography may be allowed in designated areas.

6. Are there any interesting events or exhibits at the Bodleian Library?

Yes, the Bodleian Library often hosts exhibitions, lectures, and other events that showcase its unique collections and promote literary and scholarly pursuits.

7. Are there any restrictions on accessing the library’s archives?

Access to the library’s archives may be restricted for preservation or privacy purposes. Researchers and scholars may need to seek permission and adhere to specific guidelines.

8. Can I borrow books from the Bodleian Library?

The Bodleian Library primarily serves as a research library, so borrowing books is limited. However, there are inter-library loan systems in place for scholars and academics.

9. Does the library have wheelchair accessibility?

Yes, the Bodleian Library is wheelchair accessible with ramps and elevators to ensure all visitors can explore the premises comfortably.

10. Are there any souvenir shops or cafes within the library?

The Bodleian Library has a gift shop where visitors can purchase books, stationery, and other unique items. There are also cafés nearby for a refreshing break during your visit.

11. Can I visit the Bodleian Library without a guided tour?

Yes, visitors can explore parts of the Bodleian Library without a guided tour by purchasing a general admission ticket. However, guided tours offer a more immersive experience.