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Ornithology: Home

Purpose of this guide

This guide is intended for students and researchers studying ornithology at the University of Oxford, although researchers from biology and zoology may find it useful.

Use this guide to find out about books and online resources for ornithology, including ebooks, ejournals and bibliographic databases.

Publications researched from our collections:


Image of the new Alexander Library at the Radliffe Science Library

Principal collection:

The Alexander Library of Ornithology library service is based in the Radcliffe Science Library. It is one of the foremost ornithological reference collections in the world, containing extensive collections of 19th, 20th and 21st century books, pamphlets and periodicals, and an archive of ornithological notebooks and diaries. It is an international resource with the collections covering ornithology, natural history, conservation, ecology and behaviour.

Founded in the 1930's on the personal collections of Wilfrid Backhouse Alexander, it was originally housed at 91 Banbury Road. W.B. Alexander was the first Director of the Oxford Bird Census (the predecessor of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology) and on his retirement in 1945 he became the first Librarian, holding the position until 1955. The Library was named in his honour in 1947. The Library moved into the Radcliffe Science Library in 2017 and is now stored offsite.

Today, much of the material within the collections is received via donation or through exchange schemes. The library enjoys a close relationship with the British Ornithologists' Union and books which have been reviewed within its journal, The Ibis, are subsequently deposited in the Alexander Library.

Book, journal and grey literature collections are held in the offsite Book Storage Facility (BSF) and are available to order via SOLO to Bodleian Libraries reading rooms. These must be ordered up in advance of visiting.

Archives and rare books have relocated to the Bodleian's Weston Library.  Please contact to make an appointment to view these.

Please contact the Alexander Librarian for further details.

Associated collections:

Where are we?

Alexander Library services are based in the Radcliffe Science Library. The Radcliffe Science Library building is currently closed for refurbishment so science library services are operating temporarily from the the Vere Harmsworth Library on South Parks Road.


1a South Parks Rd

Opening hours:

Further information about services:

There is Pay & Display parking available in Mansfield Road but the RSL@VHL is easily walkable from the city centre. To contact the library please e-mail or phone +44 (0)1865 272800.

Alexander & Ornithology Subject Librarian

Sophie Wilcox's picture
Sophie Wilcox
Alexander Library of Ornithology
Bodleian Libraries
+44 (0)1865 2-72800 (RSL Enquiries)

Need Help?

For ornithology subject enquiries please contact Sophie Wilcox:

For other subject enquiries please check our Subjects page.

General information about Oxford University science libraries is available here.