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Rare Books: Finding early printed books

A guide to finding and using rare books in the Bodleian Library

Gentleman at study

Searching the early printed collections

There are in excess of one million records in SOLO for books, journals, magazines, newspapers, maps, ephemera, and music printed before 1900 covering antiquarian collections held in almost 60 libraries across Oxford.   

In the first instance, all users should see SOLO - Search Oxford Libraries Online for information and guidance on searching SOLO for printed books.

For a specific guide to searching early printed books, see our our guide below.


Restricted material

A small number of our items are restricted. This is most often due to outstanding rarity and value (called 'select' items), vulnerable physical condition, or because they are subject to legal restraints (reserved).

The SOLO catalogue entry will indicate that restricted books cannot be ordered electronically but many ‘select’ books are available to readers in print, film, or digital facsimile. If you feel your research requires access to the original, please contact staff in Rare Books directly (, giving as much notice as possible (at least 24 hours), and stating why it is that you wish to see a restricted book.

Where restricted books can be made available to readers they may be viewed in the Rare Books and Manuscripts reading room on weekdays only. Select books will normally be delivered by 10am and they must be returned to reading room staff by 4pm on the same day. For advice and general enquiries, please email