Using Major Classical Libraries

Fergus Millar

Colleagues may be aware that one of the very few more or less sensible and constructive things done by the Higher Education Funding Council has been to commission a report (the Follett Report) on University library provision. One of its recommendations is that extra funding should be devoted to a few ma]or national libraries (the Library of the Institute of Classical Studies in London is specifically mentioned), in return for a undertaking that they will be accessible to all genuine scholars without fee.

The relevance of this to the use of ICS as a national resource for all of us is obvious. But I thought it appropriate to add that the same will surely apply to the Bodleian and Ashmolean Libraries in Oxford. The Bodleian will presumably have to cease to make the modest charge which it asks of scholars from outside Oxford, though for security reasons a fairly careful procedure will still have to be operated by its Admissions Office (now situated under the archway in the Clarendon Building). No date has yet been fixed for the ending of charges. It is open 9am-10pm in term on weekdays, and 9am-7pm in vacation, 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

The Ashmolean Library has never made any charge, and the process of admission takes about one minute. In about a year and a half the Ashmolean Museum will even boast its own brand-new cafeteria in the basement, which will of course be open to readers in the Library. As a concentrated, open-access library, covering Classical literature, epigraphy, papyrology and (in the Coin Room) numismatics, with extremely helpful staff, it is a priceless resource which is open to all colleagues. Now that the M40 to Birmingham is complete, there are very few Universities in the country which are more than 2 or 21/2 hours drive from one of the three park-and-ride car parks on the edge of Oxford (or risk parking in the centre if you really want). Even if a longer stay is not always possible, from most places an energetic person could start at 6 or 7 on a Saturday morning, have four hours to catch up with new books or periodicals (the library is open 9am-1pm on Saturdays, as well as 9am-7pm on weekdays during term, and 9am-5pm out of term), and still be home not long after tea. And for the moment the coffee-bar of the Playhouse still serves very well for a mid-morning break (or for a light lunch).

Brasenose College, Oxford

last updated 26/1/96

CUCD Bulletin 24 (1995)
© Fergus Millar 1995

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