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Oxford University Libraries

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Historical note

Oxford has an extremely rich, diverse and fragmented library service provided by over 100 independently managed library units. They fall into four categories: the Central libraries (Bodleian, Taylor, Ashmolean); other Faculty Libraries; Departmental (General Board) and College libraries. A majority are College or Departmental libraries with two or fewer staff. The categories vary in their relative responsibilities to teaching and research though no category is entirely homogenous.

The Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford, a copyright deposit library, and its collections are used by scholars from around the world. In addition, the Bodleian has seven dependent libraries, nearly all in separate locations: the Bodleian Japanese Library, the Bodleian Law Library, the Indian Institute Library, the Oriental Institute Library, Rhodes House Library, the Radcliffe Science Library, and the Philosophy Library.

College libraries vary widely in the size and quantity of their stock but include well-organised collections of considerable value. Their early collections were in the main assembled as working collections by former scholars and teachers, with the addition of benefactions and bequests. They contain substantial collections of printed books from the 15th-century onwards, the standard works and the best editions of each age in theology, law, medicine, art and architecture, classics, political science, history and science. Nearly all college libraries especially the older ones, and those with denominational affiliations, have pamphlet collections concerned with many theological controversies. College libraries also contain more specialised collections of books, the result of benefactions or bequests. Other specialised collections are held in the Faculty and Departmental libraries.

More information on Oxford libraries can be found at http://www.lib.ox.ac.uk/libraries/ which also includes the contact details and information on access to individual libraries. A brief history of the Bodleian library is available at http://www.ouls.ox.ac.uk/bodley/about/history. If you have any queries of a more general nature, or on work still in progress, please contact the Early Printed Books Office (EPB-Admin@las.ox.ac.uk), which co-ordinates cataloguing work in many Oxford libraries.

Coverage of file

The file currently contains 44,560 records from Oxford libraries, including the Bodleian, Taylorian, Ashmolean, as well as College and Departmental libraries. These were extracted on the basis of record quality only and therefore represent only a small proportion of the total number of printed books of the hand press period in Oxford. It does not include any retroconverted records unless they have been checked and edited with the book in hand. There are several cataloguing initiatives currently in progress in Oxford and there will be updates to the file in the future.

Mode of cataloguing

Records in this file have been catalogued book in hand and to full Oxford Antiquarian standard. The core text for antiquarian cataloguing in Oxford is the Library of Congress's Descriptive cataloguing of rare books, 2nd ed. (Washington, 1991). The basic text of DCRB is supplemented from two sources. One is AACR2, where DCRB is silent on a point, and especially as regards headings and uniform titles. The other is a set of Oxford interpretations of DCRB, which amplifies some rules, selects preferred options where given for others, and in occasional cases replaces rules in DCRB. The option of “double punctuation” has recently been adopted, which means that the original punctuation as found on the title pages of the items re-appears on the records, in addition to the punctuation prescribed by cataloguing rules.

Recommendations for searching

It is possible to search in the author indexes on any names associated with the work. Names are entered not only for the main author of a work, but also for editors, translators, illustrators, engravers, printers and publishers (where these are known). The Library of Congress Name Authority File is used to ensure that names are drawn together, however many variants are apparent on title pages and in colophons. Library of Congress subject headings are also included. Places of printing are included both in the form that appears on the title page or in the colophon, as well as in a standardised hierarchical place name.

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 resources/hpb/content/oxford_university_libraries_oxford.txt · Last modified: 2013/08/23 10:53 by baldwin



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