Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Bodleian Library at Oxford

First, I would like to say Oxford was BEAUTIFUL! The campus is gorgeous and I took tons of pictures! The tour began in the DaVinci School, which was built in 1488. The first actual lecture of Oxford took place in 1096 in the church. In the beginning, students admitted to Oxford only studied for employment purposes. The two choices at that time were working for the church or the crown. In the DaVinci School, when a student was giving a dissertation, the process was called examination by oral disputation. You were placed at a podium in the front of the room, surrounded by all your colleagues and professors, followed by a professor in the back, who would question you throughout the entire oral examination. Talk about stressful! Oxford currently has 39 colleges and is the oldest university in the English speaking world. Our tour led into two other rooms, the Sheldonian and the Complication House. The Sheldonian is Oxford's court. It is the oldest surviving court. The Complication House, built in 1637, is where the Parliament of the University held meetings.

The Bodleian is the oldest public library in England and the 2nd largest library. They receive 5,500 new additions per week. Most books are written in Sanskrit and the second most language the books are written in is Hebrew. The initial collection did not contain a single book written in English because English was not a language deemed worthy of studying during that time period. The Bodleian was built in 1488. In 1515, King Edward VI ordered all superstitious material gone. The library was forced to sell their rare materials, and also to close their doors. It soon became a school of medicine. In 1598, Sir Thomas Bodley wrote to the college about restoring the library. Between 1598-1602, the new library was built. The library now has 3 floors underground, with a tunnel leading to the other buildings where the collections are stored. Books are always delivered on the trolley system. The library spends over 1 million pounds restoring the books. Google generously donated millions to digitize parts of the collection. Another interesting fact about the Bodleian is that the invasion maps for Normandy for D-Day were developed in the library.

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