Category Archives: Middle East Library

August Highlights


This is the first in what will hopefully become a regular monthly post of bits of news which might not warrant a whole post of their own, but will give us a chance to let people know what OIL gets up to, especially when everyone else is on holiday.

August is usually a very quiet period here, but this year the Library has been ringing with the sounds of builders, drilling, hammering, (and, on one occasion, hammering followed by a howl of pain – ouch!) and also of multiple barcode readers beeping away…

Regulars will notice some changes down in the basement; the closed stack has become a friendly room which will eventually become a multimedia suite and the shelves on the righthand side of the basement are empty, awaiting a new collection which is being donated by the National Library of Korea. Watch this space for updates!

The books from the closed stack are now at the Book Storage Facility. Once ingested they will be orderable in the same way as other Bodleian books and will be kept in the reserve.

The Middle East Centre collection of Arabic fiction has also gone to the BSF, but will still be a borrowing collection, books will need to be ordered to the desk first. Staff are being trained in this soon, so feel free to ask us questions!

These moves necessitated, as mentioned, much barcoding. At any given point over a three week period at least one person was wading through over 5,000 Arabic books, re-barcoding each one and ensuring that it was identifiable as part of the collection. The more fragile of the closed stack books are also being boxed as part of the process, so that they will be kept in the best condition possible.

Of course, there have been staff holidays for much of the month as well; so generally speaking it has been fairly quiet. We anticipate things will pick up a bit in September, which will (naturally) in no way prepare us for the onslaught that will be October!

Building Works in the OIL Basement

As those of you who are still around will no doubt be aware, there are works afoot in the Oriental Institute Library basement at the moment.

As stated last week on our Facebook page, the works started on Monday, 16th July, and are expected to last for about four weeks.

The older books from the “S” collection – the ones we used to have to fetch up from the locked stack — have been sent to the BSF, with some being sent for boxing beforehand. They have a status of “Temporarily withdrawn” at the moment, but will be available for ordering in the same way as the other BSF books in the near future.

Meanwhile we are also moving out the Arabic Fiction collection formerly housed in the Middle East Centre Library. This is to make room for an exciting project, of which I am not at liberty to disclose details as yet. The books from the MEC will still be borrowable, despite being housed at the BSF, although this will not happen right away. At some point before the beginning of Michaelmas Term there should be a switch thrown somewhere by one of the people who make Circulation work, and thereafter books ordered up from this collection will be allowed to be taken out of the library for the usual loan periods, depending on whether it is Term or Vacation. We will post more details of when the MEC books become available for borrowing nearer the time.

In the mean time, we hope that those few of you who are still hanging on are not too disrupted by the noise or the sight of librarians wheeling dollies of boxes around the library! Do inform us if you have any problems and we will endeavour to assist.

Basement becomes Open Access

Most of our readers know that the Bodleian Oriental Institute Library has collections in Arabic Language and Literature on our ground floor, the PJ section. However what’s less widely known is that we also keep an extensive Arabic Literature section that belongs to the Middle East Library in our basement. These books have been on our online catalogue and available to borrow for a while, but to get access to them you’ve previously had to ask at the front desk.

We plan to eventually move the books upstairs, so they’ll be closer to the main Islamic Literature section, but for now we’ve made these books open access- the doors to the basement have been removed, and anyone can feel free to browse. The collection contains critical works as well as items of literature, and there are lots of gems to be found there. Enjoy!

The books can be found on the online catalogue, where they all have shelf marks beginning with P.