Saturday, 21 July 2007

'Historic Heart of the University of Oxford'

Early in the morning of Thursday, July 19, our class took the tube from Waterloo to Paddington Station to get an express train to Oxford. (It was fun to see the statue of Paddington Bear in the station. A nearby vendors sells -- what else -- the famous books, and also stuffed Paddington toys! He reminded us that next year is the 50th anniversary of Michael Bond's beloved series and said the author plans to come out with a 12th Paddington book.) Carrie Willis, a cyber classmate of mine from Florida State, is shown in the photo at right next to the Paddington statue!


Within an hour we were at the Oxford Station, and then all walked to the Bodleian Library, ''the historic heart of the university.'' It is the main research library of Oxford and has nearly 8 million items and its combined buildings have 2,482 seats. We divided into two groups and ours had a very knowledgable young tour leader named Matthew. The tour began in the Divinity School, which was built from 1472-1488 and used as the university's first exam school. It is also where the infirmary scenes were filmed in the Harry Potter films! (Shown in photo at left.)

We then toured the Proscholium, which was built in 1610-1612 below Sir Thomas Bodley's first extension of his library, according to Next was the much-photographed (no pun intended!) Radcliffe Camera, called ''camera'' because it is the Latin word for ''room.'' It became integrated with the Bodleian in the 1860s. The Clarendon Building (1712-1715) is used for administrative offices. We did tour the stacks underneath the New Bodleian Library, which was built from 1936 to 1940, with the lion's share of funding coming from the Rockefeller Foundation.


The average time to deliver book orders from the New Library stacks to a Reading Room is three hours. But the Bodleian is running out of space and the library's new director, American Sarah Thomas, is planning to move much of the colleciton off site. Ms. Thomas, who had been at Cornell University, started at the Bodleian this past February, and is its first woman director.

No comments: