Tips for using Oxford libraries

The 100+ libraries of the University of Oxford provide a comprehensive library service for the University. The libraries are grouped into three categories:

  • Bodleian Libraries (including the Bodleian Library)
  • Faculty and Departmental libraries
  • College libraries

Each library has its own rules, opening hours and lending practices.  This guide will give you a brief overview.  For specific enquiries, please read the relevant library’s homepage (where you will also find their contact details).

1. Which libraries may I use?

If you are a member of the University, you may usually access your own College library, your departmental/faculty library and the Bodleian Library.  Your registration at the Bodleian Library is normally automated, but you may need to register when you first visit one of the other libraries.

As well as providing resources for learning and research in different subject areas, different libraries also have a variety of study spaces which you can explore and find out where you work best.

2. Where are the libraries?

Please refer to this map of all the libraries of the University of Oxford

3. When are my libraries open and how can I contact them?

Start with this list of all the libraries at the University of Oxford which links to information about them and their websites (where applicable).  Please follow these links to find the opening hours and contact details for each library.

4. What if I have a disability?

The Bodleian Libraries have compiled information about library access and accessibility resources such as assistive technology for visitors with a disability.  Other libraries may have such information on their websites (please see 3 above) or you may contact them directly to enquire.

5. How do I find library material?

SOLO is the search interface to the library catalogues used by most of the libraries at the University.  Please refer to this guide to SOLO for help with searching the interface.

6. How many books may I borrow?

It depends on the individual library, and some libraries at Oxford are reference only and do not allow anyone to borrow from them.  You can see all the items you have on loan from libraries which use SOLO via the ‘My Account’ option on SOLO.  Help is also available in the guide to SOLO, under the “Renewals & your account” tab.

Whether and how you are allowed to renew an item will depend on the individual library. If online renewals are allowed you can carry these out whenever you see the option to login to ‘your account’ on SOLO.

7. What about fines?

All Oxford libraries set their own fines and fine rules. The best way to avoid them is to make sure you know the rules and get your books back on time!  Many libraries will send you automatic reminders via email.

8. How do I photocopy?

All libraries will have different procedures for photocopying .The Bodleian Libraries have a system called PCAS and here is a guide to the PCAS copying system.

Don’t forget that it is your responsibility to make sure you stay within the law when making copies.  Please see the Bodleian Libraries’ copyright FAQ for further information.

9. How do I find e-resources?

E-resources can be found by searching on SOLO.  They are also listed on OxLIP+ (for databases) and OU eJournals (for e-journals).

10. How do I get connected to the internet?

Access to the University’s wireless networks (OWL and eduroam) is available in many of the libraries in the University.  Here is a list of Bodleian Libraries reading rooms with wireless access.





  1. This is a very good succinct summary of Oxford libraries. However, I would like to add two things:
    1) University can access all of the libraries in the Bodleian Libraries group, not just their faculty library and the main Bodleian. In many cases they can also borrow books. There is a handy page of Bodleian Libraries here, each library’s ‘information’ page has a summary of admission and borrowing policies.

    2)Many Bodleian Libraries recommend using the Bodleian-Libraries wireless network, although it is also possible to use OWL and edu-roam. The login is also used to access the library’s PCs and is often referred to as a ‘library card login’ – there’s a guide for readers about how to set this up online

    You might like to look at the SSL’s Getting Started section: It’s a new part of the site so any recommendations on how to improve it would be welcomed.

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