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Reminders for the Summer Vacation


Summer Closure

Readers will now be aware our four week closure for the planned heating works begins THIS FRIDAY, 13th July, after which we will not re-open until August 12th. We have made arrangements with our colleagues from the Sackler Library, who will be able to fetch books from OIL for readers to consult at the Sackler Library during the closure. Please email them on  if there is anything you wish to see during the closed period. Note, please that the books will be made available in the Sackler Library for consultation only; they will not be borrowable.

If anyone is aware of potential visitors to the OIL during the period 16th July – 12th August please do make sure you let them know about the limited availability of the books and pass on the other contact information.

Most of the OIL staff will be on leave for much of the time during the closed period so the address will not be closely monitored.

Unfortunately, due to a supply problem, the contractors have very recently informed us that they may not be able to finish all the work before we re-open. They have agreed to try to do the most disruptive work out of opening hours after the 12th August so that there is as little disruption as possible to readers, but there may necessarily need to be some areas which are screened-off for drilling or other disruptions. At present we do not know any details; we will keep readers informed after we re-open as soon as we have more information and will give as much notice as possible if there are likely to be inaccessible areas of the collection or other problems.


Vacation Loans and opening hours

Vacation Loans are now in effect until 16th October 2018; readers are permitted to borrow up to 15 books – an increase from the usual 8 – during the summer.

During the weeks on either side of the closed period the library has reverted to vacation opening hours, 0900-1700 on Monday-Friday and closed on Saturdays.

We will also be closed as usual over the August Bank Holiday (25th to 27th August inclusive) and for the two days of St Giles Fair, which falls on 3rd-4th September this year.


Have an excellent summer!

This will be our last post until the end of the summer (since there’s not really going to be any news). We wish all our readers an excellent summer and hope your studies aren’t too badly disrupted by our absence.

We look forward (even in this scorching weather) to a winter where we will finally be able to control the heating!


Autumn News

Hello, and welcome to the usual monthly blog post from the Oriental Institute Library! We’ve delayed by a few days to ensure that those of you who have recently liked our Facebook page will see the link – hopefully we’ve got some new readers as well as the regulars!

Summer reshuffles

Those of you who have been away over the summer may have noticed that the Library of Congress collection has been substantially rearranged since the end of last Term. The end of the sequence – from PK to Z has now moved into the middle of the library on the shelves where the rest of the old PJ and PK books are, and will continue to move down into that part of the library as the old sequence gradually diminishes. We have updated our plan of the library to show the changes and all the shelves are labelled clearly with the shelfmark ranges. If you have problems, do come to the desk and someone will be able to give you directions.

As well as the Library of Congress material, the few Z.Per. periodicals have now moved to the shelves where the rest of the periodicals are kept (round the corner past the photocopiers). Again, feel free to ask if you can’t find anything.

The past academic year has seen 1049 shelfmarks – equating to 1419 individual books – reclassified. This is a little down on previous years, which reflects that Kate, who has done most of the reclassification, is now only with us two afternoons a week instead of three.

Building Works

In preparation for a refit of the heating system in the entire building which is currently scheduled for next summer vacation, engineers will be replacing pipes and duct-work at various locations throughout the faculty. The Library is expecting this to happen during November – we are on the plan as having work carried out in our basement area from October 30th to November 16th. The noisy work should be taking place during closed hours, but if there is likely to be disruption we will inform readers as soon as we know. We will also keep readers informed if there is any change to the schedule, or if any areas of the basement are going to be off-limits. The ground floor of the library should not be affected, except by possible noise coming from other areas, but again, we will keep everyone informed as much as we can.

Arabic Reading Group

Alasdair Watson, the subject specialist for Islamic manuscripts, is seeking participants for an Arabic Reading Group :

Please contact him directly to express and interest.

Rules of the Library: a gentle reminder

In line with other Bodleian Libraries we would request that readers remember that food and drink are not allowed in the library. Bottles of water are permitted, as long as they have a lid and are kept sealed when not in use. Other drinks, including coffee, must not be brought into the library. This is to prevent damage to books and equipment and also to discourage pests – insects or other vermin which are attracted by your crumbs may stay and munch on the books afterwards!

We have now switched to our term-time opening hours of 0900-1900 on Monday – Friday and 1100-1700 on Saturdays. Readers are requested to pack up and leave promptly when the bell is rung at 1850 – you do risk being plunged into darkness if the staff do not realise you are here!

And finally…

Do keep an eye on the Sale Trolley for duplicate books which is located just inside the Front Office; we will be adding new books when time permits during the term.

New e-resources being trialled this Term!

From now until the end of March*, there are several exciting new electronic resources available through the OxLip+ portal which we would like to encourage our readers to try out:


Early Arabic Printed Books (Trial until 10th March)*

Gale’s Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library, based on A.G. Ellis’ catalogue of the British Library’s collection, represents the first major searchable online archive of pre-20th century Arabic printed books. It includes examples from over 400 years of books printed in Arabic script as well as translations into European and Asian languages in the fields of Islamic religion, history, law, language, literature, philosophy and science. Together they demonstrate Europe’s fascination, study and assimilation of ideas and knowledge from the Arabic-speaking world with its rich heritage of science, poetry and Islamic texts and commentaries. Scholars can search on the full text of items in Arabic, English, French, German, Latin, Italian, Dutch and Spanish while also being able to discover content in Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, Syriac and more.

eBook Arabic Subscription Collection (Trial until 31st March)

Serving the countries and territories of the Arabic League and beyond, this Middle Eastern collection of more than 4,000 Arabic e-books covers a broad range of academic subjects, including art, biography, business, child development, education, medicine, social sciences, humanities, Islamic studies, history, law, music, religion, political science, technology, engineering and more.

Arab World Research Source (Trial until 31st March)

This unique full-text database is ideal for students and researchers of Arabic Studies, Middle Eastern Studies and Islamic Studies. Covering many major subject disciplines, it offers academic journals, magazines, trade publications, conference papers and industry profiles that are published in or pertain specifically to the Arab World.

Islam in the Modern World (1804-1918) (Trial until 31st March)

Islam in the Modern World, 1804-1918 addresses the beliefs, practices, theology, spirituality, and history of Islam. Content includes biographies of the Prophet Muhammad, works comparing Christianity and Islam, key theological and philosophical texts (including the Quran), relevant mystical and spiritual works, and texts surveying the history of Islam.


2016 Highlights

Happy New Year!

We trust everyone had a pleasant holiday!

Before we get on with the serious business of reminding everyone of the exciting things which happened at OIL in 2016, readers interested in Rumi may wish to attend the lecture on the Poetry of Rumi which takes place on January 20th at the Weston Library: (details here). Note that you will need to book a place for this; we will post a reminder on the Facebook page nearer the time.

2016 Recap


Last year saw a number of adjustments and changes at the Oriental Institute Library; the Japanese collections were relocated to the Bodleian Japanese Library after a decision was made by the Faculty to consolidate all the Japanese holdings in one place.

The space freed up by the Japanese move enabled us to rearrange the books in the basement, so that the Korean Studies Library is now on the shelves just at the bottom of the stairs, with the Indian Institute section now also moved so it resides on the shelves on the ground floor by the photocopiers.

The space where the Korean books were kept is currently being used by the Taylorian Library for a number of their periodicals which are to be barcoded, but which needed to be moved out of their previous locations to make room for the books from the Taylor Slavonic library which left its previous location over the summer. We have welcomed a few slightly baffled Modern Languages scholars who were looking for their usual publications over the last few months, some of whom had no idea we were here!

At the end of Michaelmas Term a number of periodicals which had previously been shelved among the Library of Congress books were shifted to the empty shelves near the other OIL periodicals; these have had a suffix “Per.” Added to their shelfmarks on the system which should make them easier to locate, but do ask staff if something has vanished from its usual place!

Finally, as we mentioned in the previous post, Kate has finished the “D” section in the reclassification project, as well as a few smaller groups of books under “L”, “M” and “N” and will be starting the “P” section as soon as she has finished a bit of essential moving to make space. In the last calendar year, 1808 shelfmarks were reclassified, many of which were multivolume works – the total number of individual books reclassified was 2136.


In December we said goodbye to Jonathan Acton, who had worked with us since 2010. We hope he is enjoying retirement and able to spend more time with his grandson!

During the summer we had a number of guests from the Muller Library after a minor fire in the Clarendon Institute forced them to close and relocate for a number of weeks while the building was repaired. The library is happily now open and the staff have returned to their normal workplaces, but it was interesting to have different people around at OIL for a few weeks!


New PCAS – and with it shiny new photocopiers – was launched successfully in September, with only a few minor glitches being identified in what is otherwise a very similar system to the old one. Those of you with long memories may shudder at the thought of the original PCAS launch in 2009 which was very different; in the case of the new system we are happy to report that only minimal staff time has been taken up showing readers (usually those new to the system entirely) how to use the machines.

Building works

Over the summer we had the excitement of the replacement of the Library skylights, which actually proved far less disruptive than most of us had feared (visions of the entire LC section on the back wall being sheeted off proved unfounded), with crash-towers erected, but not preventing access to the books. One of these came into its own on a memorable Friday when Vasiliki was at the desk, heard a shouted expletive, and saw one of the workmen fall through the hole from the roof! Fortunately he was unharmed.

During the work we were given an interesting opportunity to see the sky from parts of the library which usually can’t…


Directly before Christmas work began to replace the lights in the common room area. This has taken longer than anticipated due to an unfortunate incident on the last Friday before Christmas when one of the workmen drilled through a water pipe in the common room ceiling. Library staff brought in a preventive conservation expert from the Bodleian to monitor the humidity in the basement during the weekend immediately after the accident, and happily there was no change, so the books at the end of the basement are at no increased risk of mould at present. Work to fix the problem is ongoing; we will keep readers informed if the library is affected.

And finally…

Readers who need to find out more about Open Access and how it affects them are encouraged to attend one of the following drop-in sessions this Term:

OA poster


August News and September Reminders

We trust everyone is having a relaxing summer? Before we get on to the news from last month, please note:

St Giles’ Fair

The Library is CLOSED for St Giles’ Fair as usual, from Saturday 3rd (tomorrow as I post this) to Tuesday 6th. We will re-open at 0900 on Wednesday.

Having been in the building on other fair-days I can assure anyone who feels aggrieved about us being closed that you really don’t want to be trying to concentrate when all you can hear is the bloodcurdling screams of people on the rides directly behind Blackfriars’ at the back of the building, not to mention several conflicting bass lines from the music. Best to stay away, read at the Bodleian, where it’s quieter, maybe venture out for some candy floss?

Muller Library Books

The Leopold Muller Library remains closed following the fire at the Clarendon Institute on Walton Street on August 11th. We are as yet not sure when the Estates Department will allow general access to the building again, but in the meantime readers who wish to consult books held at the Muller Library are advised to contact the staff, who will bring their books to the Oriental Institute. Readers ordering books from the BSF will have their books delivered to us, and staff will also bring round lending books which we can then check out in the usual way. If the situation continues for a long time we may have a member of the Muller Library staff working on-site at the Oriental Institute, but as yet we do not know whether this will be necessary.

Building Works

We are happy to report that the builders have now finished in the library and the skylights have been successfully replaced. The scaffolding towers have gone and we are able to use the back office again, which had been completely emptied to allow for coverings on the ceiling. As I write this, the scaffolders are removing the rest of their structures from above the library, so things should quieten down nicely next week!

Thank you to everyone for their forbearance in the face of much drilling/banging and off-key singing (or so I am told by other colleagues).

We now have nice, new, brighter (and opening – but only in the back office) skylights which will hopefully hold in the heat a bit better in the winter, and are much less yellow and scruffy than the old ones were!


Building Works in the Library

Work to replace the skylights in the Oriental Institute Library is set to begin NEXT WEEK, July 11th, and run through until approximately August 9th. The builders will be accessing the skylights in the LC section, round by the journals and in the staff office and there is likely to be some noise and dust disruption during this time.

We have been told that all the books *should* be accessible to staff during the works but would ask readers that they ask a member of staff to fetch items which are close to the building work and we may have to cordon off certain sections entirely depending on the nature of the works going on.

We are working on a day-to-day basis on this and the situation may change, but we are determined that the library will remain open for the duration of the works.

Please bear with us during this disruptive time. Any further updates or details will be posted on this blog or on the Facebook page.

Summer News and Announcements

It’s now the Summer Vacation, and contrary to the perceived assumptions of some of our readers, we don’t all just spend the summer lying down reading books (oh, if only…)! There is going to be rather a lot going on over the next few weeks:


The move of some items from downstairs and the rearrangement of the rest of the collection was mentioned in the previous (short) blog post. We have now almost completed the bookmove, and are in the process of finishing off downstairs and finalising the shelf-labels and other details so that the books are locatable by readers.

Meanwhile we are also now home to a number of periodical titles from the Taylorian which are going to be temporarily kept in our rolling stack and in the area where the Korean Studies Library books were (round the corner from the Reader PC). We will do our best to accommodate readers from the Taylorian who need to access these journals, which will eventually be barcoded and sent to the BSF.

The last of the Japanese books in the Library – the Reference collection on the ground floor – have now been sent on to the Bodleian Japanese Library, so we no longer hold any Japanese material.

Building Works

Anyone who has been in over the last few days will not have been able to ignore the noises from the builders, who are currently scaffolding the building ahead of the replacement of various parts of the roof, including the Library skylights.

We do not have an exact timetable as yet for when the parts of the library directly under the skylights are going to be affected and are currently awaiting confirmation from the builders, but it is looking like the end of July – beginning of August. There will be periods when the books directly under the skylights will not be accessible to readers, but we have been assured that Staff will still be able to access them, and we will be able to bring readers books from the closed-off areas.

A larger issue for staff is that there may be a requirement to build a scaffolding tower *inside* the Library Office, which may result in staff being displaced if it requires us to dismantle the desks. We will endeavour to ensure that there is always a member of staff on the Front Desk (unaffected by the works) and there will be cover to ensure that we can stay open for our usual hours during the disruption.

Note, however, that if for some reason we do need to close, we will try to give everyone as much notice as possible to avoid inconveniencing people too badly.

New Photocopiers!

We will be receiving new photocopiers at some point over the later part of the summer in accordance with a plan to improve aspects of the PCAS system. Documentation will be distributed when the details have been finalised and we hope that there will not be too long a period when photocopying is not available to readers.

Opening Times

Subject to the above caveat, the Library will be open as usual throughout the summer from 9am – 7pm on weekdays and 11am – 5pm on Saturdays. The normal exceptions to this are the August Bank Holiday weekend, when we are closed on the Saturday 27th and Monday 29th August inclusive, and St Giles’ Fair, on the 5th and 6th September.

Outside the Oriental Institute, may we remind readers that the Middle East Centre library will be closed from 4.30pm, Friday 8th July until Friday 30th September.

Any alterations to the opening times or other matters will be posted on the Facebook Page, with longer explanations appearing as blog posts as and when we need them.

April News

A quiet month…

Whilst your humble librarians would love to have list of the exciting things which happened during April at the Oriental Institute Library, in reality there is not much to report. Apart from the usual flurry of activity at the end of the month, when Term started and many books were returned after the Vacation, April was a quiet time in the library in which often the loudest sound was the ruffling of pages – and the occasional loud “thump!” wherever Kate was moving books.*

(*It’s not something that can be helped; when moving a shelf’s worth of books on to a different shelf one runs the risk of a couple toppling over, and as we have metal shelving they do make a rather resonating “BONG” noise. For the record, only once did any actually fall off the shelf, and those were caught on the way down!)

The bookmove which was ongoing for much of the month is now finished, and the reclassification has reached almost the end of the DS section; readers looking for books which have an old classification (DS-Number-letters) are advised to check their reference unless the number is 452 or higher as almost all the others will now be in the LC classification.

Staff update

Natalija has now taken over a vacant position on Fridays, which has meant a small shuffle of the staffing in the library, but will improve coverage overall should there be an emergency. We hope readers will not be too confused by seeing different people on the desk at odd times!

Remaining quiet…

As we are now into the final Term we appreciate that readers will be preparing for exams and would just remind everyone that we are here as a quiet space for revision and/or panic. Do let staff know if there is anything we can do.


Hopefully, by the end of May, we will be able to give updates on the buildings work which is to be scheduled for the summer, including the replacement of the Library skylights. Stay tuned!


A Few Library Reminders

After a relatively low turnout for this year’s Library Open Day, we thought that it might be timely to publish a post with a few pearls of wisdom for new readers. Note that more information about library rules and collections is to be found on the OIL website, which also has links to materials which have been made available on WebLearn:

  • The Library Door: the door operates using the SALTO system, which is used around several libraries in Oxford and requires you to hold up your Bod card to the little box on the doorframe. This does not always work if your card is in your wallet alongside other cards, particularly bus-cards or other cards with a chip. Removing your Bod card from your wallet and holding it close to the little box usually works, but please be patient and wait for the green light!
  • Downstairs: the Library has a downstairs! This comes as a surprise to some readers (one had been here several years before discovering the Lower Ground floor), and will prove especially useful to those people studying Chinese or Japanese, South Asian subjects, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Syriac and related Eastern Christianity subjects or Korean. While some materials from these collections are held up on the ground floor in the reference section at the far end of the library, more extensive collections are to be found downstairs. Please note however, that some Hebrew and Jewish studies books were recently moved to the Muller Library at the Clarendon Institute on Walton Street, so there may be gaps. The stairs are located round the corner from the Front Office and just along from the Back Office.
  • Reference vs. Apply Staff: If a book on SOLO says “Reference” that means it is confined to the Library and cannot be borrowed. These books are for the most part shelved in the general sequence if they belong to the collections on the Ground Floor, or will be found at the back of the Ground Floor in the Reference section if their collections are usually on the Lower Ground. Do ask staff if you aren’t sure. “Apply Staff” books are on the shelves in the Front Office and are for use in the library. These are books nominated by the Faculty members and appear on reading lists, so are restricted to avoid them disappearing for long periods when everyone needs them for essays.
  • Shelfmarks: There are a number of different shelfmarks in use in the Library, but the main source of confusion is among those beginning with letters such as DS, PJ and PK. A rule of thumb is that the short shelfmarks without a date will be for books with BLACK labels, in the middle and at the side nearest to the windows, and the long shelfmarks with a date will be WHITE labels, which start behind the Front Office and work their way around the outside of the library. Shelves are labelled, but do ask the staff on duty if you are really stuck. Kate, who works at the desk on several afternoons in the week, is gradually reclassifying the old (black-labelled) sequence, so books do sometimes move without warning!
  • And finally: ASK if you can’t find something! There will always be someone on the desk who can help.

May Headlines


May has been a month during which the library has been very well-occupied by readers preparing for exams. We would like to wish everyone the best of luck! We hope that we are providing somewhere calm and welcoming for people who are a bit stressed and worried; as ever, do let us know if there is anything we can do to help – even if it is just making sure the photocopier has enough paper.

We had some drama last week when one of the stair treads came loose on the stairs leading down to the basement, leading to Dawn having to take the decision to close the stairs. The lift (which is in the corner of the library past the photocopiers) never saw so much action! Fortunately it also behaved itself, which is always a bit of a worry with such an antique piece of equipment… The stairs were repaired quickly and we are happy to report that there were no injuries as a result of the problem.

Readers will have noticed that another survey, different to the one which was sent out for students, has been being publicised via notices around the library. We hope that everyone who wished to give feedback successfully did so in the time available. When we have official news about the proposed changes to the library service we will, of course, pass it on. We are bound, however, to only doing this when approved by senior staff, so do bear with us if we’re not saying much!

Announcements for June

Vacation loans will begin next week (8th June) and will run through until 13th October (Tuesday of First Week). Books borrowed before that time can be renewed for the longer loan period as long as you have not renewed more than twice before. If you have any problems please contact library staff.

We have been asked to pass on a reminder to finalists to use up your PCAS credit! Accounts do stay active for about two years, but it is probably worth trying to leave them as empty as possible if you are leaving us for pastures new.

We would also like to gently remind finalists to please return your books to the library before you go; and to please make sure that you return the correct books to the right places!