Murder in the Library!

By | 18 December 2017

‘Cluedo’, (or ‘Clue’ as it is known North America), is an all-time classic favourite board game in the murder mystery genre.  Originally manufactured in 1949 by Waddington’s, it is now owned by the American giant Hasbro.  It has had many reissues and updating of characters, most recently with the tragic death of Mrs White – now replaced by Dr Orchid. More on this momentous development here:

The aim however remains the same: Who killed Dr Black (our host), where and with what weapon?  This should appeal to law students, as you are trying to piece together bits of evidence to solve the case.  The setting is a Tudor mansion split into various rooms, with potential murder weapons left scattered around.

Those Librarians amongst us immediately know that the murder couldn’t have been committed in the ‘Library’ with a ‘candlestick’ – this would break the Bodleian Library declaration/oath, which we hope you recall goes as follows:

I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library or kindle therein any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.

No sane murderer would risk the wrath of a Librarian by ‘kindling a flame’ in the Library.


We are however less sure whether murder in the Library using a wrench is so strictly forbidden – presumably as long as no book is harmed in the process, it wouldn’t strictly speaking breach the declaration.

For those of you interested in such things, the declaration is still in existence today and still forms part of the Bodleian Libraries admissions process, those younger readers amongst you may not have had to read the declaration out aloud, but certainly will have signed a form agreeing to abide by it.  Earlier this year our Admissions Office announced that

they have now translated the declaration into more than 100 languages, so everybody can now read it in their mother tongue.

As you move around the Cluedo game board making ‘suggestions’ and learning new information you make notes on your detective notepad. Serious players not only follow what they’ve been directly told, but also keep track of every suggestion made and which player answered it, as well as bluffing and double bluffing whilst making their own suggestions, in the hope of misleading their fellow detectives. Somewhat tenuously all these false links and dead ends bring me on to talk about the frustration of ‘link rot’ in reading lists, that is links that go to an error message when you click on the hyperlink.  What is the solution?

Well as you’ve asked:

On the First day of Christmas, you would ask us to link your postgraduate reading list, we will use permanent links wherever possible and are mindful of copyright rules when we are deep linking.

On the Second day of Christmas you would consider having an online video tutorial written for your reading list – please look at the ones already done here. These are specific to your reading list and enable your students to be self-sufficient and find their own reading material, without worrying about link rot.

On the Third day of Christmas (and if you wanted to give your students even larger clues), we can scan articles and chapters that aren’t available electronically. These we would put on the WebLearn site LawBod 4 Students in a subject specific folder.  See the WebLearn site here.  Request something to be scanned here.

And On the Fourth day of Christmas and now stretching ‘tenousity’ (no, it isn’t in the dictionary) to the maximum – if you do want to keep potentially ‘dead links’ alive then perhaps consider using perma cc.  This enables you to create a permanent record of a website you use.  So, above when I pointed to the ground-breaking and some would say terrible  ‘news’ that Mrs White was to be replaced, I used a perma cc link, as  I wanted you to see the newspaper story exactly as I have viewed it today. By creating a perma address for it, I can ensure that it doesn’t disappear when the paper updates.  You can create 10 personal links a month for free using perma cc.  To be able to create unlimited links you need to be registered with your organisation, in our case the University of Oxford.  We are the registrars for the University so please send me an email if you would like a ‘perma cc’ account:

So the game ends when a player makes a correct ‘accusation’ of who, where and how. Again you may have to play this tactically, so perhaps make your accusation earlier than you would like if you ‘suspect’ someone else may get in there before you.

Who knew board games could be so tense?!

Merry Christmas!


Picture credits:

Cluedo – Image by Steven Isaacson, reproduced under licence CC BY-SA 2.0. Website:

Wrench  – Image by Adrian Gaines, reproduced under licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Website:

Candlestick – Image by Christoph Kaiser, reproduced under licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Website: