Visit from Brother Anthony of Taizé


On 4th May 2023, the NGL was delighted to welcome a very special guest: Brother Anthony of Taizé!

The Bodleian Libraries house many important Korean manuscripts and books brought back from Korea by missionaries since the end of the 19th century.  Brother Anthony suitably follows in the footsteps of Bishop Trollope and Monsignor Richard Rutt by donating his personal library to the Bodleian.

His visit started with viewing some important Korean manuscripts and books at the Weston Library.  He then gave a talk ‘Books and People: a Korean Cornucopia’ in the Window on Korea Room, Nizami Ganjavi Library, commenting on selected books and the personalities behind them.

The lecture was followed by drinks and 장구 Janggu, a Korean drum performance in the Chapel, Hertford College.

To learn more about Brother Anthony, his fascinating work, and his extraordinary life as a bridge between the UK and Korea, visit his person web page.





Here be dragons…

April 23rd is celebrated as the Feast of St. George here at Oxford!

It is often that St. George was proclaimed as the patron saint of England at the Synod of Oxford in 1222, and though historians cast doubt on this claim, St George’s feast day has, in the minds of many, a special relationship with our city.

As it turns out, the patron “saint” of our library, the 12th c. CE poet نظامی گنجوی Niẓāmī Ganjavī, was also a huge fan of dragons, and featured them prominently in his story of the هفت پیکر Haft Paykar or “Seven Forms”.

In honour of our library’s doubly special relationship with dragons, we here at the NGL have decked our display table with a selection of literature on dragon myths from across our region of expertise.

Of course, given our namesake’s fondness for these scaly beasts, it’s no surprise that the centrepiece of our display is حسن وحید دستگردی Ḥasan Vaḥīd Dastgirdī’s 1936 CE Persian edition of نظامی گنجوی Niẓāmī Ganjavī’s Haft Paykar — one of only a number of original language editions held int he NGL’s collections.

Niẓāmī Ganjavī, and Vaḥīd Dastgirdī, Ḥasan. Haft Paykar. Tihrān, 1936. Print.

When is a dragon not a dragon?

Carving from the 10th c. Georgian ხახული Khakhuli monastery (now in Bağbaşı village, Erzurum, Turkey) which depict the swallowing of Jonah by the “whale”. (picture courtesy of Niko Kontovas)

Various traditions within our region acknowledge numerous types of fantastic creatures which, though distinct from one another according to those traditions, are all sufficiently recognisable as dragons according to our modern conception of the term.

Across much of Eurasia, for example, there is ambiguity – both in language and, often, in form – between dragons and snakes.

In Abrahamic religions, there are numerous creatures which are variously conceived of as both snake-like and dragon-like. In Hebrew, the word תנין tannīn can refer to many such creatures – snakes, sea snakes, crocodiles, dragons, and even whales – often associated with the sea and almost always associated with evil.

Translations of the Old Testament into various languages throughout history have reflect differing interpretations of the same word in different contexts, sometimes translating תנין tannīn the same way as נחש‎ nāḥāš “serpent”. This further reinforced the association between serpents, dragons, and the Devil.

Eventually, in some eastern Christian traditions, giant sea monsters began appearing where none existed in the Hebrew. This carving from the 10th c. Georgian ხახული Khakhuli monastery (now in Bağbaşı village, Erzurum, Turkey) is thought to depict the swallowing of Jonah by the “whale” – here nearly unrecognizable as such – though the original Hebrew refers only to a דג גדול dāg gādōl “big fish”.

Hāṇḍā, Omacanda. Naga Cults and Traditions in the Western Himalaya. New Delhi: Indus Pub., 2004. Print.

Similarly snake-like are the nāga of the Indic tradition. Though the exact characteristics of nāga vary widely across South Asia, like the Hebrew תנין tannīn, the Sanskrit नाग nāga is usually supernaturally powerful and associated with water. In contrast to Canaanite serpent-dragons, however, nāga are often portrayed as part human and can be either neutral or benevolent in their interactions with the human world.

Handa’s Naga cults and traditions int he western Himalaya (2004) details the worship of nāga deities in the Western Himalaya, where they are particularly associated with the weather, agriculture, and – curiously – bees. Like snakes, nāga deities in this region spend much of their time underground or underwater, and they occasionally claim a sacrifice – probably reflecting the occasional loss of life to snakebites in the fields.


In his classic tome on Tree and serpent worship (1873) in India, also on our display, Scottish Orientalist James Fergusson theorised, in part on the basis of the absence of any mention of nāga worship in the Vedas, that the veneration of nāga in these regions of India is a remnant of indigenous traditions dating back to before the Indo-European invasion of the Subcontinent – even, perhaps, before the spread of Dravidian-speaking peoples.

Connected at different points in pre- and early history to both the Biblical תנין tannīn and the Sanskrit नाग nāga is the Avestan Aži Dahāka, the most evil demon serpent of Zoroastrianism.

The word aži is cognate to Sanskrit अहि ahi “snake”, but Aži Dahāka much more closely resembles the Biblical sea monsters than the Indian objects of worship. Where nāga can control wind and rivers, Aži Dahāka merely entreats the Zoroastrian angels of the winds and rivers to lend their power so that he may pervert it to destroy humanity.

Photo: © Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.
MS. Ouseley Add. 176, f. 30a.
ضحاک Żaḥḥāk is nailed to Mount Damāvand as punishment.

In later Iranian myths, preserved most famously in Firdawsī’s epic poem شاهنامه Šāhnāma, Aži Dahāka is anthropomorphised in the form of the immortal tyrannical ruler ضحاک Żaḥḥāk who, after permitting the evil deity اهرمن Ahriman to kiss his shoulders, sprouts from them two serpents who demand to feast on human brains.

You can see this in folio 30a of Ouseley Add. 176, a beautifully illustrated Persian manuscript of the شاهنامه Šāhnāma held at the Weston Library. Some of you may also remember from our post back in March for Nowruz that the NGL hosts a number of editions of the شاهنامه Šāhnāma, so you can come read the gruesome tale of ضحاک Żaḥḥāk yourself in at least four different languages!

Incidentally, the modern Persian word for “dragon” اژدها aždahā is derived from the name of Aži Dahāka, whence also the word for “dragon” in many other languages, like Turkish ejderha and Kurmanji Kurdish ejdeha/ejdîha.

Fantastic beasts and where to find them… in a Mediaeval Turkish manuscript at the Weston!

By the Islamic Middle Ages, dragons in much of the Middle East had become, much as they had in contemporary Christian Europe, fantastic beasts of various shapes and sizes.

In an illuminated manuscript of مصلح الدین سروری Muṣliḥuddīn Sürūrī’s 17th c. CE Turkish translation of زکریا ابن محمد قزوینی   Zakariyyā ibn Muḥammad Qazwīnī’s 13th c. CE عجاٸب المخلوقات Ajā’ibu l-maḥlūqāt, housed here in the Weston Library (shelfmarked MS Turk. d. 2), we can see two depictions of dragons, accompanied by an explanation of their form, nature, and purported habitat.

The first (folio 140a) demonstrates how dragons in this period are depicted as largely malevolent and associated with the destructive forces of nature. Here we see repeated the common trope, whereby dragons are associated with the end of the world – here as the food for Gog and Magog, the monstrous lords who will wreak havoc upon the Earth before the Day of Judgment. The notion that Gog and Magog feast on a dragon flesh is first attested in Firdawsī’s Šāhnāma.

Photo: © Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.
MS Turk d 2, folio 140a.

“And (another) one is the dragon in the sea, which harms sea creatures. God on high sends a cloud to lift it from the bottom of the sea. It has a body like a big black fish and the colour of it sends out lightning, such that if its tail as big as a tree should touch a building it would ruin it. Whatever its breath reaches burns, and that cloud raises it up to the region where Gog and Magog are and drops it there, so that it might be their food, such that each of them brings a knife and cuts it and feeds upon it […]”

In a second (folios 144b-145a) depiction, we see another dragon fulfilling roles as both an object of conquest and a bearer of magic. Any man brave enough to slay it can employ its oil and meat to a variety of magical ends, further enhancing his valour and virility. In the interest of space we’ll leave them off this blog post, but you can come see these and read a translation of these folios in the NGL!

A case of mistaken identity (Part 1)

The northern half of the Armenian Highlands (composing parts of what is now Armenia, north-eastern Turkey, and southern Georgia) is littered with megaliths known in the Armenian scientific literature վիշապաքարեր višapak‘arer (singular վիշապաքար višapak‘ar) in Armenian – literally “dragon stones”.

While the dating of these stones – and, therefore, the ethno-linguistic characteristics of those who constructed them – is uncertain, they have become associated in local cultures for centuries with “dragons”, with which they share a name in local languages: Armenian վիշապ višap and Kurmanji Kurdish ejdeha.

Early research, such as Marr & Smirnov’s Les vichaps (1931), relied heavily on this association in their analysis of these stones. They note that an early Georgian translation of the Bible employs the word ვეშაპი vešap’i for the sea creature which swallows Jonah, often confused with a whale. They further suggest that the location of the dragon stones near high-altitude lakes and rivers seems to suggest an affiliation with water, which is also a characteristic of dragons in pre-Christian Armenian folklore. If the dragon stones were sites of veneration of dragon-like water deities for ancient Armenians, they argue, the veneration of the fire god Վահագն Վիշապաքաղ Vahagn Višapak‘ał “Vahagn Dragon-culler” and the vilification of dragons by later Armenians may suggest successive inversions of older beliefs by Zoroastrian and Christian authors.

Later research, such as Капанцян Kapant͡si͡an‘s О каменных стелах на горах Армении O kamennykh stelakh na gorakh Armenii (1952), has preferred to analyse the stones outside the context of their later mythical association with dragons. They identify the two figures which frequently appear on these stones as a “fish” and a “sacrificial animal” – probably a bull – but the popular association with dragons and the name višapak‘ar has remained.

Հայերեն: Վիշապաքար ցուլի պատկերով, Ք.ա. 3-2 հազ. Կառավարական երրորդ շենքի գլխավոր ճակատի մոտ.

A case of mistaken identity (Part 2)

With a name like “Georgia”, you might expect the largely Orthodox Christian Caucasian nation to celebrate St. George’s feast day – and indeed it does, though not when you might expect.

The festival of გიორგობა Giorgoba in Georgia is celebrated differently and at different times in different parts of Georgia, with common dates being 6 May, 23 November, and 14 August. Even the name of the holiday differs from place to place, though the association with St. George remains. Veneration of St. George in general is common across the country – so much so that, upon its independence from the Russian Empire, the short-lived Democratic Republic of Georgia made St. George its patron saint, as he remains to this day. You can read all about the various folk incarnations of St. George in Charachidzé (1968)’s Le système religieux de la Géorgie paienne.

Charachidzé, Georges. Le Système Religieux De La Géorgie Païenne : Analyse Structurale D’une Civilisation. Paris: F. Maspero, 1968. Print. Textes à L’appui.

You may be surprised to learn, then, that the country was not named after the saint – at least not originally. While the country bears the name Georgia (or names like it) in English and many European languages, the name for the country in Georgian is საქართველო Sakartvelo, ultimately related to a geographical term and ethnonym from a certain part of the country. The common European name seems to stem from the Persian ethnonym گرچی gurjī, ultimately probably related to the word گرگ gurg “wolf”, transformed by European pilgrims to the Holy Land some time during the Middle Ages – perhaps noting Georgian pilgrims’ veneration of St. George.

Funnily enough, while the story of St. George and the Dragon is known in Georgia, it does not seem to have played a major role in his traditional veneration. Instead, Charachidzé argues, many of the St. George myths from Georgia are ported over from pagan myths, usually of an old lunar deity.

Pre-Christian Georgian mythology does, however, feature dragons – usually known as გველისფერები gvelisperebi (singular გველისფერი gvelisperi), literally ‘serpent-coloured’ or ‘serpent-like’. In some legends, the გველისფერები gvelisperebi are servants or guards of certain gods or demigods. In others, they specifically guard the entrance to the underworld and are at war with the birds – sometimes eagles or the phoenix-like ფასკუნჯი Pask’unji – perhaps betraying an older association with the earth and water in opposition to the sky and fire.

Coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of Georgia depicting St. George with the sun and moon – but no dragon!

Summer reminders

Vacation Opening Hours

Now that Term is over and the last of the exams are done, we would like to remind readers that this year we will be reducing our opening hours over the summer.

This Saturday, July 1st, will be our last Saturday until October 7th, and during the week we will be open from 0900 until 1700, Monday to Friday.

Readers who wish to consult books on a Saturday may discuss this with library staff, who may be able to move some material to the Sackler. This will be limited to confined books – readers will be expected to borrow books which can be borrowed, as long as they have the correct borrowing rights – and we reserve the right to refuse if the numbers of books being moved become unmanageable. Please give adequate notice that you wish to transfer books for use on Saturday (i.e. please don’t come to the desk at 4.55pm on a Friday with a massive mountain of books – this will not be appreciated!).


Basement Closure

Following all sorts of rumours about the imminent building work, the final version for 2017 appears to just be for some preparatory work to take place in the Oriental Institute basement. This will be taking place between the 21st and 28th July inclusive.

Due to the nature of the works, the Library Basement will be inaccessible to everyone, even library staff. This is because the fire exits are to be sealed – the work will not be in the library itself – which means we cannot risk going down there for Health and Safety reasons.

Readers who wish to consult books from the KSL, Hebrew & Jewish Studies, South Asian, and Eastern Christianity sections are strongly advised to either move them up to a desk in the ground floor space or to contact staff in advance if they are coming that week so that we can move them for you. If anyone is aware of a potential visitor who might need these books during the closure period, do please let them know about this; we have informed our colleagues in Special Collections at the Weston Library in case they are expecting academic visitors who might need access to our collections.

During this time, the Common Room and the toilets will also be out of action.


Book Moves – a long process

Kate, who has now reduced her hours to two afternoons a week (Tuesdays and Fridays), has begun moving the LC books into space vacated by the reclassified PJ section, and also the Z.Per. periodicals which have now been moved round to the same area as the rest of the journals. This will necessarily take some time, but she intends to keep the shelves updated with handwritten notes until the move is finished.

We apologise in advance for any confusion this may cause!

Summer News, Autumn Announcements


The start of a new Term always seems to creep up on those of us who are here in the Library all year round; the sleepy quiet of the summer months being swept away by the influx of readers. September ends with a whimper and suddenly we are busy again!

This week marks Induction Week at the Oriental Institute Library; with graduate inductions having already mostly taken place and the Undergraduate Induction and Library tour taking place late Friday morning. We urge new users (and readers of this blog) to take advantage of these opportunities to meet the staff and to be shown round the library; we know you will have questions later, but for now it is just good to know we’ve told you roughly where the books you need are and how to access them!


Summer News

So… what’s new? Lots of things, actually!

The skylights in the library and the office were replaced over the summer, necessitating some disruption, mainly to the staff office, which had to be emptied for a number of weeks. The towers under the skylights in the library came into their own when one of the builders fell through the hole (amid much swearing) having tripped on the roof, so it was worth having them there, and the work itself was carried out from above, which lessened the dust and general unpleasantness for those of us beneath.


At the end of the summer term we rearranged the periodicals into a slightly tighter arrangement in order to make some space for other materials on the ground floor, while at the same time moving the KSL (Korean Studies Library) books into the space vacated by the Japanese books which moved out earlier in the year. The area where the KSL books were is now a temporary home to a number of Taylorian periodicals which have been moved here to make space for the Slavonic and Modern Greek material which moved into the Taylorian; the Indian Institute Government Publications still occupy most of the rolling shelves downstairs, while the other Indian Institute material is now up on the ground floor just opposite the photocopiers. (Phew!) Everything is labelled; if you can’t find anything please ask a member of staff – we have updated our map of the collections accordingly.

The Library of Congress material has been moved round again by Kate into the space she made since her last move, so books may be in a slightly different area than they were; the shelf labels are up to date and Kate is currently working her way through the DT section in the corner near the reader computers.

In the last year, a total of 2388 items, representing 1993 shelfmarks, were reclassified and reshelved into the proper sequence. Kate is hoping to get past 2000 shelfmarks in the next year, but isn’t promising anything!

We now have a sale trolley, to be found just inside the door in the Front Office, which contains duplicates of books the library already holds and other items. Unsold books will be sent to Betterworld Books for resale, but we thought we would give readers the opportunity first. Hardbacks cost £3, paperbacks £1.50 and multiparts are 50p each. Lydia is adding new things regularly, so do feel free to browse.

Finally, PCAS has now changed to a new system which automatically links to a user’s reader card. Readers with existing PCAS accounts will need to transfer the funds from that account to their new one using the portal created for the purpose. Please see the PCAS pages on the Bodleian’s website for details:

Autumn matters

As mentioned before, undergraduate inductions take place on Friday 7th October, so there may be more noise in the library during that period.

We would like to remind readers that food and drink (with the exception of water in bottles) are not permitted in the library – there is a common room downstairs for that purpose.

Finally, there may be a few more readers than usual for a while this Term as the Muller Library, which suffered a small fire on the upper floors of its host building on Walton Street in August, is still to re-open. Please check their webpages ( for more information, in the mean time staff are able to bring books round to the Oriental Institute for readers to use and Muller materials held at the BSF may be ordered here.

Disruption in the Library in the next couple of weeks

During the Long Vacation – and starting next week – there is going to be some disruption in the Oriental Institute Library to accommodate collections which are going to be stored here as an interim measure. The following is a statement from James Legg, Head of the Humanities Section, and Gillian Evison, Head of the Oriental Section of the Bodleian Libraries [with minor amendments in square brackets].

With apologies for the short notice, this is to alert our readers that there will be some rearrangement of material in the Oriental Institute Library over the Long Vacation with some preliminary moves in the next few days:
– former Indian Institute books and the former Bodleian periodicals will move to the main periodicals section [on the ground floor, which will necessitate some moving of the OIL periodicals to accommodate them];
– the South Asia section in the basement will move to the shelving nearest the staircase [previously occupied by the Japanese books which moved over Easter];
– the Korea [KSL] section will move out of [the section round the corner] into the area currently occupied by South Asia (reference section and lending books) and the Hebrew and Jewish Studies folios (periodicals) [the area immediately before the lift and computer downstairs, on either side of the aisle];
– the Hebrew and Jewish Studies folios will move to the other end of the HJS section.
These moves will consolidate the periodicals sections, give more space to rearrange material as the reclassification project proceeds, and create a separate space for the collections being processed in the basement.
If you have any questions or concerns about these moves, please contact Library staff, who will direct your question to the most appropriate person.

We advise keeping an eye on the Facebook Page/Twitter feed for short-term notices about the moves, and will produce a floor-plan of the new locations in the basement when the moves are complete.


March News and April Announcements

Move of the Japanese Collections

During March, the Japanese Collections at the Oriental Institute Library have been moved to the Bodleian Japanese Library. This includes the Short Loan books, the books under the Library of Congress classification, and the majority of the collection, which was housed downstairs.

The decision was taken by the Committee for Library Provision in Oriental Studies – subcommittee on Japanese Studies to move the books from OIL so that all the Japanese material would be accessible in one place.

Meanwhile, readers who have borrowed Japanese books may return them to OIL and we can transfer them to the BJL, or may just take them straight to the BJL.

Reclassification and reorganising

Kate is currently undertaking one of her epic bookmoves, moving the books in the Library of Congress section into the space most recently vacated by those books reclassified since the last move in September of 2015. She is currently in the DS section on the back wall of the Library and hopes to take no more than another week (bearing in mind she works 3 afternoons with us and is elsewhere in the Bodleian the rest of the time) to finish up to the As.

Please bear with us while this work is taking place. Care is taken to make sure that not too much noise is generated by the occasional toppling book, but some disruption is inevitable so we try to use the vacations when there are fewer readers around to do this kind of moving.

SOLO downtime

A note from the Bodleian Libraries:

SOLO will have limited availability from 5pm on Friday 8th April until 9am on Monday 11 April.

This is due to essential maintenance on associated background systems. Users will still be able to search the catalogue but:

You will not be able to request items
The Find & Request tab will not be visible, so there will be no live item or availability information
It will not be possible for users to view or renew their loans
It will not be possible to place requests

The silver lining is that online access to electronic resources will be unaffected.

Just a short one…

A short post this month, but with fewer readers due to the vacation it has been rather quiet. We hope to update everyone on the skylight news next month!


2015 retrospective


Happy New Year! Please indulge us while we present a reminder of the exciting year that was 2015…

2015 was a busy year at the Oriental Institute Library, with many changes taking place. Most of these have been behind the scenes so we hope that as far as our readers are concerned things have remained calm and peaceful, but for the staff it has been quite a year!

The move that wasn’t

It was early March when the staff of the Library were told of the proposal to close the Oriental Institute Library and move the collections into the Sackler Library. We were told before any other discussions had taken place, in order that we could field questions if anyone heard rumours. Consultations with staff and students were carried out over the next couple of months, with a great number of people expressing to library staff their disquiet at the idea of removing the Library from the Faculty building.

Various points were made about the practicalities of moving our collection into an already full library and the problems which might arise for both sets of staff – Oxford is an institution with a long memory, and it is not uncommon for people to come back years after they left and be confused by changes which took place in the interim, so it would not be a case of taking a few months to get used to different materials.

We were finally told in June that the proposal had been withdrawn, which was an immense relief to both the staff of the library and our loyal readers – not to mention the Sackler readers and staff who had been as dubious as we were about the idea. We hope to continue for a long while as we are, providing a service which is obviously valuable to the University as a whole.


In June we welcomed Vasiliki Giannopoulou to the Library, initially on Thursdays and Fridays, although her role has now expanded slightly to take on extra hours. Vasiliki had previously worked at the History Faculty Library, so her familiarity with the Library of Congress materials was a definite bonus in terms of shelving. She has now been with us for over six months and has settled into the team well.

The summer saw a couple of announcements; Dawn Vaux, who had been the Deputy Librarian at OIL since 2004 (check this) told us that her husband had been offered a job in Sydney, Australia, and that she would be leaving the Library at the start of September, while Dinah Manisty would be retiring at the end of September.

Dawn’s departure was, naturally, more of a surprise, but we all wished her well and she was given a good send-off at the beginning of September.


Meanwhile Dinah’s interim replacement as Subject Librarian for Middle Eastern and Islamic Collections is Lydia Wright, who worked for a month shadowing Dinah to get up to speed with the work before Dinah’s departure.


As both our senior staff had gone we underwent a bit of restructuring to compensate; Lidio has now taken on more responsibility and Jane Bruder from the Sackler has extended her role to include certain managerial duties at OIL. Both Natalija and Vasiliki have also taken on more hours to increase staffing levels. We hope that readers have not noticed any major change in service provision as a result of these adjustments.


At the end of the summer the staff of the Muller Library at the Hebrew and Jewish Studies centre moved some of the books in our collection over to Walton Street as they were deemed more appropriate to the collection there. Readers who find that books they were expecting to be here have moved are advised to check SOLO for new location information.

Kate has reclassified a total of 2342 books in the last calendar year. Over the 2014-15 academic year she reclassified 1688 shelfmarks, representing a 2223 items in total. During September she moved the books from the end of the LC sequence into the area vacated by the DS section and is currently working her way along the shelves near the computers. As ever, please check SOLO regularly if you are a frequent user of materials in the area which is currently being reclassified as things will move.

Looking Forward to 2016

Now that Term has begun again we look forward to welcoming our returning readers, hoping that everyone has had a relaxing break. At present the only major change of which we are aware is the move of some of our Japanese books to the Bodleian Japanese Library, but at present we have no timetable for that work and will keep the Facebook page and this blog updated when more information comes to light.


November headlines and announcements for December

OIL has seen a change in our staffing this month, as we welcomed Hannie Riley from the Chinese Studies Library, who is now with us on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while our own Kenan goes to CSL. Hannie will be responsible for the cataloguing of some of the Korean materials which have come to us as part of the Window on Korea project, as well as working on the desk.

We have had a reasonable response to our Facebook Mystery Object competition, which is now closed for entries. An announcement will come during 8th week as to who has won the top prize of the £10 Blackwell’s voucher, and who has won the runner-up, chocolate related prize. We are able to divulge that someone actually found the correct-ish answer!

We’ve also had a sudden rush of new likes on the FB page, which has taken us to 538, which is amazing! Hopefully we are getting the balance right of not posting too much and spamming everyone’s timelines. Luckily, SOLO has been behaving, so we’ve not been posting every five minutes like we were over the summer…

While we’re on the subject, we should urge people to book for the Research Skills Toolkit session for Orientalists which is on Wednesday 4th December . It’s only a couple of hours and you may find something very useful!


Looking forward to December, the Library will close for the Christmas holiday on Friday December 20th at 5pm. This is the same day that the rest of the building closes. We re-open on Thursday 2nd January.

Vacation loans for library books start next Monday, 2nd December, and will take you though to the Tuesday of 1st Week of Hilary Term – January 21st. Any renewals made on or after Monday will also take this into account. 

October Headlines and announcements

October is usually one of our busiest months, made to seem even more so by the stark difference between the beginning of Term and the quiet of the previous few Vacation months.

This year has been no different; Term proper started on the 14th of October, but before that was the excitement of Freshers’ Week, and the OIL Open Day.


The Open Day was well-attended, but may have suffered somewhat from its placement at the end of a busy week in that not many people stayed on after the initial presentations took place. Members of the Library staff took turns in introducing themselves and giving a brief talk on various aspects of the Library; Dawn Vaux introduced the library itself, Dinah Manisty discussed electronic resources, Emma Mathieson the South Asian collections, Gillian Evison introduced herself as the Bodleian’s Head of the Oriental Section, Minh Chung gave a brief overview of the Window on Korea collection, and Kate Guest told the new readers about the Library’s Social Media presence, while other colleagues endeavoured to get as many new readers’ cards registered as possible.

We also had a special appearance from Tim Kirtley, the Librarian at Wadham College, who talked briefly about that college’s Persian collection, which is open to any Oriental Institute readers who wish to use it upon application. There are forms at the OIL front desk for anyone wishing to apply to use this resource.

After the talks there was some time for new users to get to grips with SOLO, PCAS and other scary library-related acronyms, as well as a presentation on the new Library Assistant resource in the office, and some lovely Middle Eastern sweets courtesy of Dinah. We hope that our new readers found the session useful and informative, and are, as ever, very happy to answer any questions that readers bring to us.

Meanwhile, in other news:

For those of you who may have missed the original posts, there is now a way of paying library fines online via the University’s shopping pages We hope that this will be popular with readers.

On Wednesday 30th October, we had a visit from a Korean television crew who were reporting on the Window on Korea section in the basement, which is sponsored by the National Library of Korea, and is now one of the biggest Korean studies collections in the UK.

Finally, and just because we can, another shameless plug for our Mystery Object Competition, which can be found on our Facebook Page. The object itself is near the office on top of the card index, if anyone wishes to have a look at it in the flesh (well, concrete) as it were. Keep those entries coming in!


June news: Special edition – the Grand Opening of Window on Korea

Friday 21st June 2013 saw the Grand Opening ceremony for the Window on Korea (WoK) collection at the Oriental Institute Library. This is a new collaborative project which sees the Bodleian Libraries liaising with the National Library of Korea, to consolidate our existing Korean collections along with a generous gift of over 3,000 new books on Korean subjects – to be added to by further donations over the next four years – in a newly-refurbished area of the Oriental Institute Library basement. The National Library of Korea also provided some of the funding for the new multimedia seminar room which was built in the basement last summer.

As regular readers of this blog will know, the preparations for this event have been going on for almost a year, beginning last summer with the removal of the Middle East Centre books to the Book Storage Facility so that we could make room for the new seminar room in the basement and re-organise the shelving for the WoK books, which have been arriving at the library since the end of 2012.


A monumental last push took place over the last few weeks, with several members of staff including Dinah Manisty, Dawn Vaux, Angela Arnold and Ha Yea Riley getting as much of the cataloguing and acquisitions work finished as they could, and the Bodleian Porters did a sterling job of moving boxes across Oxford so that OIL staff could make sure that the books were processed and on the shelves ready for the opening.


The Window on Korea collection was officially opened by Mr Kim, Kab Soo (Director of the Korean Culture Centre, UK), and Ms Kim, Nam Sook (Deputy Director, International Cooperation and Public Relations Team, The National Library of Korea). They were welcomed by Deputy Bodley’s Librarian Richard Ovenden and Professor Ian Walmsley, the University’s newly-appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research

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Presentations were also given by the Bodleian’s Head of Humanities, James Legg, and Dr James Lewis, University Lecturer on Korean History, whose speech remembered his initial introduction to Korean studies by the then Keeper of Oriental Collections, Dr Adrian Roberts.

The event was well-attended by many staff from the library and the wider Bodleian Oriental Collections,( although your humble blogger was sadly absent due to a prior appointment.) and has been hailed by all as a great success, and a testament to the hard work of Minh Chung and Ha Yea Riley (who dressed in a stunning traditional Korean costume for the event) as well as Angela Arnold and all the Oriental Institute staff who have been preparing for it for the last few months.

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As a nice final touch, at the beginning of this week we were delighted to discover that the opening had made the news in Korea!

Acknowledgements: thanks to everyone who sent pictures and words to enable me to write this in absentia, especially Gillian Evison, Ha Yea Riley and Angela Arnold for the photos and Jonathan Acton for his concise account of the speeches! KG