Oxford, the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’, is synonymous with the famous University, with Town and Gown inextricably interwoven for over 800 years. Oxford University is the oldest in the English-speaking world, with teaching recorded in 1096, though it only began to develop in 1167. Oxford’s libraries are among the most celebrated in the world, not only for their incomparable collections of books and manuscripts, but also for their buildings, some of which have remained in continuous use since the Middle Ages.
The Bodleian Libraries is the largest university library system in the United Kingdom. It consists of 29 libraries across Oxford including major research libraries, faculty, department and institute libraries, as well as the principal University library – the Bodleian Library – which has been a legal deposit library for 400 years. First opened to scholars in 1602,the Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and incorporates an earlier library built by the University in the 15th century. The Bodleian Libraries now collectively hold more than 12 million printed items, over 80,000 e-journals as well as outstanding special collections including rare books and manuscripts, classical papyri, maps, music, art and printed ephemera.