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Welcome to OIL!

Hello, and welcome to the first OIL blog post of the 19/20 academic year!

We are excited to meet all our new readers, and pleased to see people from previous years returning to us. Here are a few bits of news and a few reminders (we’ll try to keep it short; information overload is probably setting in already…)

Summer update

Returning readers will have noticed that the refurbishment which was supposed to happen this summer did not. We will instead be closed for a substantial part of next summer (2020) for the building works. More on that as and when we get information. We will be sure to put notices up around the library and add something on the Facebook page and in this blog if we get any firm dates or details.

Kate has rearranged the PJ section again, as part of the ongoing reclassification work. The shelves are all labelled, and it is only the area around the computers and in the middle of the library which has changed; the rest of the LC section is still largely in the same place it was last year.

The biggest change over the summer has been the moving of the periodicals – formerly on the shelves by the photocopiers – down to the basement, from where they will be eventually transferred to the BSF. Do ask staff if you can’t find something which was previously kept with this collection.

Housekeeping: a few reminders

Food and drink (except for water in bottles with a lid) are not allowed in the library. This is to prevent pests which might damage the books from being enticed in by crumbs. If you have a medical need to keep food with you, please speak to library staff. We are not trying to cause harm to anyone, but to prevent harm to the collections, which are, after all, why everyone is here.

All the shelves are labelled with the range of shelfmarks which they house, but if you cannot find something do feel free to ask the library staff. Most of the collection on the ground floor is classified under the Library of Congress Classification (LC), and is gradually being reclassified by Kate, who is in the library on Tuesday and Friday afternoons. The central section holds the remainder of the “old” classification with black labels, which duplicate to a certain extent the PJ and PK sections. If a shelfmark which you cannot find has a date at the end, it will be in the LC (white labelled) section. If it is short and does not have a date (i.e. PJ7700 Jam*) it will be in the “old” section.

*not a real shelfmark.

Korean books and books on Eastern Christianity are housed in the lower ground floor, down the stairs by the Library offices. These have a prefix on the record (KSL and ECL respectively) which identifies them as being part of these collections and not the general LC sequence.

The lower ground floor is also home to our South Asian and Hebrew collections, both of which use in-house classifications rather than LC. There is a plan of the library and the various locations of the different shelving schemes at the front desk, should anyone need one.

We have a Suggestions book by the front desk which readers can use if they think of a book or resource which we do not have but which they think we ought to have for the library. Our subject specialists look into all suggestions and reply to the original enquiry.

PCAS (Print, Copy & Scan) has changed its payment structure over the summer, so payments are now taken on a different platform – the new URL is on the website and on flyers which you can obtain from the library staff, so if you have bookmarked the old link you will need to change it for the new one.

Photocopiers are to be found by the Library Desk. Please do not remove paper from the photocopiers, and please let staff know if you notice that the paper has run out – we have a supply in the back office. Scrap paper is available in the box on the table next to the photocopiers; you are free to add to this if you have unwanted single-sided copies.

BSF (Book Storage Facility) books are delivered twice a day, Monday to Friday. If you order a book by 10.30 am it should arrive in the afternoon delivery.

OIL is on Facebook and Twitter, which is where we post urgent announcements such as problems with SOLO, or the van deliveries, or (rarely) closing the library early due to emergencies. You can find us at and

Finally… ask us! There will always be a member of library staff at the desk during opening hours (if they are not at the desk they will be shelving in the library and should have left a note saying where they are) and we are here to help.

Have a wonderful Michaelmas Term!


Summer Closure: July 8th – September 30th 2019

We have now had confirmation of the summer closure for the refurbishment of the library following the endowment given by the British Foundation for the Study of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus.

The Library will be closed from the 8th July 2019 until the 30th September 2019 to enable substantial remodelling and building works to take place.

The vacation loan limit has been raised to 20 books per reader. We strongly advise people to borrow their books at the beginning of the vacation. Vacation loans will begin in 8th week to allow people who are leaving Oxford at the end of Term to borrow their books for the summer.

A daily fetching service of material from the Oriental Institute Library to the Sackler Library will be in operation during the closed period. If at any point it becomes impractical or unsafe to access parts of the collections we will keep everyone updated as to availability.

We would ask those who are planning to use Oriental Institute Library books over the summer vacation to get in touch with library staff to let us know as soon as possible what open shelf books you are intending to use.

If you know of any colleagues from outside of Oxford who are planning to use the Oriental Institute Library over the summer, we would be grateful if you could share this advance warning with them. Any further information that affects library users will be shared as it becomes available.

We will keep the Facebook page updated with any changes to the above as and when we know about them, and update the blog if there is detailed news.

Before the closure, OIL will continue to be open until 7pm on weekdays.


Vacation Opening for Easter 2019

Just a short post this month, as we covered all the news last month…

We are now issuing books on Vacation Loans, so they will be due back on Tuesday April 30th.

We will remain on our term-time opening hours of 9am-7pm next week (March 11th-16th) and thereafter will be open from 9am-5pm during the week and closed on Saturdays.

We will be closed for Easter for the usual five days: Thursday 18th – Monday 22nd April inclusive. We have yet to finalise the opening hours for the week beginning 22nd April, but will post an update on the Facebook page when we know. This is to a certain extent dependent on staff leave and the availability of cover.

As ever, please keep an eye on the Facebook page for any updates or last-minute changes to our opening hours, and have a great Easter Vacation!

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.