Getting started: How to use my Bodleian Reader card

Who are Bodleian Reader card holders?

Bodleian Reader card holders have made a successful application to get a reader card. They are not current full members of the University of Oxford.

What access do I have as a Bodleian Reader card holder?

As a Bodleian Reader card holder:

  • you can use our library resources (including the University's subscription e-resources) while you are in any of the Bodleian Libraries
  • you cannot borrow items from the libraries
  • you cannot access subscription e-resources remotely.

For more information, see 'How do I find and use library items?'

If you need to access our special collections, you will need to include a request as part of your statement of research need.

When you receive your card, you will also be given a Bodleian Libraries username and password. Use these details to log into SOLO (Oxford University's main library catalogue), library PCs, the ‘Bodleian-Libraries’ Wi-Fi network and our Print, Copy and Scan (PCAS) service.

Which libraries can I use?

All Bodleian Reader card holders may use any of the Bodleian Libraries during University vacations:

Vacation dates 2024/25

  • Sunday 3 December 2023 – Saturday 6 January 2024
  • Sunday 10 March 2024 – Saturday 13 April 2024
  • Sunday 16 June 2024 – Saturday 5 October 2024
  • Sunday 8 December 2024 – Saturday 11 January 2025
  • Sunday 16 March 2025 – Saturday 19 April 2025

Some libraries are available by appointment only – please check each individual library for details.

If you are eligible to use the Bodleian Libraries during term time, your access is as follows:

Any Bodleian Reader card holder can consult the EU/UN papers Official Papers held in the Law Library throughout the year.

The Weston Library is open throughout the year to all readers who wish to consult special collections material (including University students of all levels).

How do I find and use library resources?

General print collections

Use our library catalogue, SOLO, to search across almost all books, printed journals and newspapers, maps and music printed after 1801 (except those classified as part of our special collections).

Find out more about how to use SOLO.

How to access items from general collections

You can access items kept in our reading rooms (open shelf items) as soon as you receive your Bodleian Reader card.

You can also use SOLO to request items not held in our reading rooms (closed stack items) for delivery to one of our libraries. Select 'Find & Request' on the item record. You will need your Bodleian Reader card, username and password. To order items in advance of getting your Bodleian Reader card, please email with the details of the items you would like to consult 5 working days (Monday – Friday) before you visit the Admissions Office. You can pre-order up to 6 items.


You can search Oxford University's subscription journals, e-books and other digital resources on SOLO, our library catalogue.

How to access e-resources

You can only access our subscription resources from within our libraries using a library computer or your own device logged onto our ‘Bodleian-Libraries’ Wi-Fi. Due to licensing agreements, you are not able to access these resources outside of our libraries. You may not use our electronic resources for commercial purposes.

Some of our online resources are available to Bodleian Reader card holders offsite:

  • Open Access eresources – use the Open Access filter in SOLO to find journals, articles and books that are available to all to read
  • Many of our databases are also open to all: look for the circle symbol in our Databases A-Z.

Special collections

Our special collections include our collections of manuscripts, archives, rare books, music and maps. To find out more about the items we hold, browse our special collections catalogues and finding aids.

If you wish to use an item from our special collections, please include your request in your statement of research need when you apply for your Bodleian Reader card. Readers don't receive access automatically.

How to order items from special collections

Many items listed on our online special collections catalogues can be ordered using our online request service – look for 'Request this' on the item record. Find out more about using the request service.

For all other items from our special collections, contact the team at at least 48 hours before your planned visit to make sure the material is available for you to use.

Find out more about using our special collections.

Using our library services

You are very welcome to use the following library services:

Finding help

Our staff are available in most reading rooms. Feel free to ask any member of staff if you need help or guidance. We also have live chat and ask a librarian services to help answer your queries.

Straightforward enquiries are usually resolved immediately.

If your query requires specialist subject knowledge, you will usually be referred to a subject librarian or curator who can help. However, subject experts may not be immediately available. You can find contact details for our subject librarians.