Technically, this is cheating. I spent the greater part of a term in this library last year before exams, so I’m not making much headway out of my comfort zone – but as a law student, I think it can pass as interpreting the rules to my advantage.
And while we’re being legal beagle, I’d just like to add before we begin: that by this blog I am not attempting to reflect what the Bodleian libraries are all about to any degree. The Bodleian libraries are entrenched in centuries of history and a scary amount of knowledge, and one undergraduate on a bicycle can only hope to gather a few nuggets of Bodleian gold. If you’d like to find out more about the libraries properly, please have a look at the official guides which I will link at the bottom of my posts.
Good, so now I can write gobbledygook without feeling bad about it.
People seem to have a preconception that Oxford libraries basically look like Hogwarts inside. So, sorry if you were expecting talking paintings and rotating staircases – that’s not what it’s like. Once you get over this blatantly outrageous failure to conform to fiction, though, and realise you actually need to be able to use the library, you appreciate how it’s ridiculously organised and coherent instead. As long as you have some perception of logic as a student (though in some cases, such as mine, questionable), it’s actually possible to find the very exact book you need amongst thousands very quickly.
This may be childish, but I found it seriously cool that, while I was engrossed in a copy of the 1976 All England Law Reports I’d extracted from a nearby shelf (necessary reading), I was sitting directly above a complete archive of the House of Commons Parliamentary papers. In the same building as developed collections of Jurisprudence and Roman Law books, and books that are so old they are literally falling and have to be kept in boxes. If a member of the library says they don’t, they’re lying at least a little bit.
Apart from that, it’s just a very quiet and upliftingly academic place to work. But I think I’m betraying that I do like it here. Suffice to say, I really enjoyed my revisit and think it was definitely the right place to begin.
Many thanks to Bodleian Law Library (@thelawbod) for permission for photography.