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Rare Books: Researching library history

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

Early catalogues of printed books

The Library's early catalogues of printed books are available online, either as scans of library copies or via Early English Books Online (login required).

Acquisition lists

  • 1604 Bodleian Benefactors’ Register (Munificentissimis atque optimis…
  • 1780-1861 During this period purchase lists were published annually with titles in the format: A catalogue of books purchased for the Bodleian Library in 1780 [etc.]. Electronic versions of most of the 18th-century lists are available via ECCO and can be found through SOLO.

Bodleian Library Records

The Library preserves a large quantity of its own administrative records from 1602 to the present. They reflect the various aspects of the work of the Library over four centuries (though few series are complete for the whole period), including: Curators' minutes and reports; accounts and bills; papers concerning the construction and repair of buildings; correspondence with donors, depositors and enquirers; papers about the acquisition and cataloguing of collections, records of readers' admission and book orders; material about exhibitions; and the records of modern departments and dependent libraries.

There is no published catalogue of this material, but draft finding aids can be made available on request in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room.

Access to certain records less than 80 years old is restricted.

Please see Finding Aids - Early Modern & Modern Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library for more information.