My great enjoyment in getting to go to Oxford cannot be explained. The knowledge capital of the world contains one of the largest and most famous libraries, the Bodleian Library, along with many famous colleges. After a two-hour bus ride, we arrived in Oxford and I started my day with a mocha and Danish from a local restaurant. Following the breakfast, I meet up with my class to start the tour.
I was really excited to start the tour as my class walked through the Bodleian courtyards. The guided tour began in the hall, which acted as the room in the Harry Potter movies. A major theme throughout the tour was the relationship between the Bodleian and Harry Potter. The guide chose to point out other relatable areas or items to the franchise. Even the whole of Oxford seemed to make the connection as I toured the Balliol College, the school chose to point out that their great hall acted and inspired that in the movies. Besides the Harry Potter associates, the tour guide mostly gave the history of the library. She guided us through the beginning years of the library and then through the following centuries. Most of the tour did focus on Thomas Bodley, the man who helped create the library as it is today. Even though I would find the history entertaining and fascinating no matter how the stories were told, I enjoyed the tour ever more with the excitement and passion of the guide. She livened up the stories and the characters involved.
A brief summary of Thomas Bodley life begins with him becoming the first Greek professor at Oxford. Followed by his change in profession from professor to spy for Elizabeth the first. Bodley achieved great success as a spy and was appointed ambassador to the whole of Europe for England. He made a lot of money and by the time he retired Bodley wanted to use his money to restore the moldy, sad library at Oxford. Bodley’s money went to the restoration and remodel of the physical building while his appeals to friends and relations filled the shelves of the new library.
Now the library contains 13 million items along with the largest Hebrew collection outside of Israel. One million of those 13 million items have been digitalized. Their collection does and will continue to grow as the library obtains a copy of every book published in the United Kingdom. This averages 2,000 books a WEEK. That is a crazy number of books being cataloged and sorted each week. Below is a video from the University of Oxford telling of the Bodleian’s struggle to maintain the vast collections and their process of over coming the challenges as a 21st library:
Following the engaging tour at Bodlein Library, we were freed to explore Oxford on our own. After an hour and half lunch, a group of us decided to go see the Ashmolean Museum. The University of Oxford’s arts college operates the museum. Ashmolean includes a wide range of items including many time periods and events. One such gallery included ceramics of all sorts. The gallery presented the artifacts chronologically showing the development of ceramics in Europe. Additionally, the galleries included Roman and Greek sculptures, Medieval England and a secluded area for Italian art.
Both the Bodlein Library and Ashmolean Museum were spectacular visits, and to end the charming visit to Oxford, I toured Balliol College. The college of philosophy lies on beautiful grounds with a small garden courtyard followed through a gate by a larger courtyard with trees and a café. The street outside the college is busy and chaotic yet once I stepped through the college gates the atmosphere changed immediately. The tranquil quiet of the college concluded beautifully my day at Oxford.