Thursday, July 21, 2011

Silence Please...

The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford is one of the world's premier research libraries.  Of course Oxford itself is home to over 100 libraries.  First used as the home of Oxford's Divinity School, the Bodleian Library is steeped in the political and academic history of England.  In addition to research, in these buildings students would take oral exams, receive degrees, and possibly even go before the Chancellor for accusations of improper behavior.  The buildings that comprise the Bodleian Library surround a central quadrangle in the heart of Oxford.

In contrast with modern libraries, the Bodleian Library is not open access.  The vast resources it offers, including famous collections and archaic manuscripts, are meant to be studied at the library.  In fact, in the library's earliest days the books were chained to the shelves and the students had to stand up to read!  I had to chuckle when our guide told us that fact considering the never-ending barrage of overdue slips teachers receive from the school media specialist in the spring :)  Now students request books and reserve reading rooms with the librarians who will then bring the resources to them.  What a contrast to the average public or school library!

After visiting the Bodleian Library and nearby Christ Church, it was interesting to tour the soon-to-be Story Museum, a place to celebrate stories and storytelling.  Although it does not open until 2014, the Story Museum is well underway in terms of planning and fundraising.  The museum's director, Kim Picken, explained how the Story Museum would help support literacy awareness and provide resources for local schools.  Surprisingly enough, she mentioned that Oxford has some of the highest literacy rates in England, but also some of the lowest.                  

Retraced some of the magic of Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter today with our terrific tour guide at Christ Church, Stuart Fleming!

1 comment:

  1. What an idea! Chain the books to the shelves. Somehow I don't think I'd get very many patrons that way. You're right though, no overdue slips needed! A story museum, how interesting.
    (Library Media Specialist Lakeland High School)