In Oxford we visited a pub that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to frequent and lovingly nicknamed The Bird and Baby. The Eagle and Child was a welcome refresher after a long day touring Oxford.
The Eagle and Child
On the fourth of July we traveled to Oxford, England to visit the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. Oxford has been one of my favorite places to visit so far. Oxford was the stomping ground for several of my favorite authors including: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, and more. Also a few Harry Potter scenes were filmed at the Bodleian and we got to see where the scenes were filmed and hear some stories from the staff.
Ok, but back to the Bodleian. The Bodleian Library is one of the world’s best libraries. It houses over 11 million items and they only recently got a barcode system! Since 1600, they have received a copy of every book published in Britain. They have four copies of the Magna Carta and a special collection of 250,000 titles. The collection grows by 3,000 items a week receiving magazines, newspapers, fiction, and nonfiction. They are astoundingly about half-way through digitizing the collection. Thankfully they are working with Google to put all the text out of copyright on the internet.
Once they finish the refurbishment of a nearby building, the “new” Bodleian will house 3 million of the library’s texts in a central location. Additionally, they’ll have a public exhibition space, which will be phenomenal because the Bodleian is not a lending library. The library impressively employs 500 staff members, 40 in the restoration department, all with a £6 million budget. These numbers are a far cry from the library’s beginning. The library was originally founded through a donation of 250 manuscripts by Prince Humphrey. Above the Old Divinity School, they built a library to hold what was at the time a very large collection. But, soon a little thing called “print” came into fashion and the library of manuscripts was neglected. Then Mr. Bodley came along. Thomas Bodley asked the chancellor if he could refurbish the library (with his own money!) and the chancellor agreed. Sir Christopher Wren worked to reinforce the library’s supporting arches and Bodley created the first floor to ceiling shelving in England.
We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the library, but here are a few I snapped from the outside: