Skip to main content

Bodleian Library (Old Library & Radcliffe Camera): Old Bodleian Library Reading Rooms

Lower Reading Room

The Lower Reading Room of the Old Bodleian Library is the principal reading room for all those studying Classics and Ancient HistoryTheology (including Patristics) and Philosophy. 

The Lower Reading Room is also the home of the Enquiry Desk, situated at the north end of the reading room. It is staffed throughout opening hours and staff there are happy to help with any queries, direct you to the most appropriate reading room for your studies, and assist with the use of the online resource discovery tool SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online) and electronic resources and databases available. 


Classics and Ancient History

The open shelf Classics material is arranged across four rooms of the Lower Reading Room:

The Enquiry and Reference Room contains: 
C.Gen General studies on combined Greek and Latin subjects
C.Lang Ancient Language 
C.Num Numismatics
General reference

The Greek Room collection contains papyrological texts and modern works on history and religion.
C.Gr. Greek Texts
C.Gr.A. – C.Gr.Z. Greek texts, arranged alphabetically by author
C.Hist. Classical History of Greek and Roman World
C.Hist.Gr. History of the Greek Classical World
C.Hist.Rom. History of the Latin Classical World
C.Epig. Classical epigraphy 

The Latin Room houses Latin authors along with a reference section and indices.
C.Lat. Latin texts
C.Lat.A.-V. Latin texts, arranged alphabetically by author
C.Index Concordances of classical texts (Latin and Greek)
C.Ref.A-D. Reference works for the classical world
C.Dict Classical dictionaries (this sequence continues in the Tower Room for modern language dictionaries)
Classics New Periodicals Latest editions, arranged alphabetically by journal title

The Tower Room (in the middle of the reading room) holds the display of new books for Classics, Late Antiquity, Theology and Philosophy, and a section on Late Antiquity which is classified using the Library of Congress classification scheme. The Late Antiquity collection’s shelfmarks range from AC1 – Z8. The C.Gr. sequence also begins here.


Theology and Patristics

The Theology section contains undergraduate teaching collections, while the Patristics section holds material relating to Greek and Latin writers from the rise of Christianity to the invention of printing. Core reference titles and a collection of Bible texts are also available in the Patristics room.

Th.Ref.A-B  Reference works on religion
Th.B  General Religion
Th.Dict  Dictionaries
Th.H  Church History
Th.J  Polity
Th.Liturg  Liturgy
Th.P to Th. W  Apologetics; Dogma and Christian Theology; GodCreation; ChristologySacraments; EschatologyChristian Life
Th.Y.A-Z  Theologians Post 1450 (secondary works)
Th.Text  Primary works of Theologians

Pat.Gr. and Pat.Lat.  Patrologia Graeca and Patrologia Latina
T.Atlas  Bible Atlases
T.Bibl.  early works on The Bible
T.Bible.D to T.Bible.H  Works on The Bible; Old and New Testament; Gospels; Acts, Epistles, Revelation
T.Gen.  General Theology
T.Text.  Primary texts
T.Text.Gr. and T.Text.Lat.  Primary sources in Greek and Latin



The Philosophy Room houses the main Philosophy collection, including references works . 

Phil.Ref. Reference works
Phil.A  Encyclopaedias and reference tools
Phil.B  History of Philosophy, General
Phil.C  Ancient/Medieval Philosophy
Phil.D  Philosophy, Bacon to circa 1755
Phil.E  Philosophy, circa 1755 to circa 1820
Phil.F  Philosophy, circa 1820 to circa 1945
Phil.G  Contemporary Philosophy
Phil.H  Philosophy, Science and Religion
Phil.Text  Critical texts arranged alphabetically by author

Upper Reading Room

The Upper Reading Room is on the second floor of the Old Bodleian Library and is the principal research reading room for access to printed books and periodicals published after 1640 in the subject fields of Medieval and Modern History (including History of Science), and English Language and Literature.


English Language and Literature:

The open-shelf English Literature collections (shelfmarks beginning A) consist largely of standard editions of the works of the principal authors from the Anglo-Saxon period onwards, major bibliographical and reference works and series. 
A.1 General Literature; folklore; anthologies
A.2 English Language
A.3 General English Literature; criticism; bibliographies; guides to dissertations and theses; dictionaries of quotations; other reference works; book production; history of language and grammar; place names; personal names.
A.4 English Literature to 1500
A.5 English Literature, 1500 to 1700
A.6 English Literature, 1700 to 1950
A.7 American Literature



The open-shelf History collections (shelfmarks beginning K) consist largely of source materials, major bibliographical and reference works, and periodicals relating to the History of the British Isles and Europe, from the fall of the Roman Empire to 1945 and beyond, with some coverage of other geographical areas.
K.3 Historical Manuscripts Commission (HMC) Reports
K.5 Calendars
K.6 Society publications and church history
K.7 Medieval history 
K.8 Belgian and French history sources
K.9 German, Austrian, Italian and Spanish history sources 
K.10 British sources
The Upper Reading Room also houses collections of History of Science, classified using the Library of Congress classification scheme. 

Duke Humfrey's Library

Duke Humfrey's Library holds collections supporting higher-level studies in the Humanities.

The collections include local History, historical reference, historical biography and University history. 

Readers should be aware that certain restrictions apply in using this space: water and other beverages, large bags and coats are not permitted in the Library. These should be stored in lockers on the ground floor on the north side, near the reader lift. Clear plastic bags are available there for carrying laptop, notes etc into Duke Humfrey's. The lockers require a returnable £1 coin or locker token.