The Bodleian Library’s Map Room re-opened in its new premises on Monday 20 September in the wonderfully atmospheric Duke Humfrey’s Library. Maps occupies the northern wing of the new-look Selden End, and boasts two splendid new map tables crafted by carpenters from the University’s Estates Department. A partitioned off area has also been created for digital mapping. Selden End’s open shelves have been filled with Maps content transferred from the New Bodleian Reading Room. Additional staff invigilation points have been created within Selden End, so there should always be specialist staff on hand. Individual phone numbers remain unaltered within the Maps section, but the direct number for the reading room is now 01865 287300. A number of Maps staff have already relocated to Duke Humfrey’s Library, with the remainder staying in the office in the New Bodleian for the time being.
One member of the staff team was particularly delighted when the first new map to be added to the collection arrived in Duke Humfrey; it was the latest 1:25,000-scale Ordnance Survey Explorer map for Manchester and Salford. Our first cartographic enquiry required the use of 1970s Soviet-produced maps of the United Arab Emirates. These were used by colleagues from the Pitt Rivers Museum to identify the locations of wells referred to by William Thesiger in his travel diaries.
On their first visit to the new facility, a regular Map Room reader was heard to comment: “And lo let there be light, and there was light”.
This move has been necessitated as part of the programme for the refurbishment of the New Bodleian, which is planned to re-open as the Weston Library in 2014.
— from Nick Millea