About the Library

The Bodleian Libraries’ collections are extraordinary and significant—both from a scholarly point of view and as material that has an historic and aesthetic richness that holds value for non-academic users. Each year the Libraries serve more than 65,000 readers, over 40% of them from beyond the University, while its critically-acclaimed exhibitions attract almost 100,000 visitors annually. In an effort to make portions of our collections open to a wide variety of users from around the world for learning, teaching and research, the Bodleian Libraries have been digitizing library content for nearly twenty years. The result is over 650,000 freely available digital objects and almost another 1 million images awaiting release.

Like many academic libraries, though, our freely available digital collections have been placed online in project-driven websites, with content stored in discrete ‘silos’, each with their own metadata format, different user interfaces, and no common search interface enabling users to discover content or navigate across collections. Some of our collections are linked at portal pages, but each collection remains, with a few exceptions, isolated and difficult to search. In addition, only a few collections offer a machine-readable interface, or any way to link their data with similar data in other Bodleian collections, or with collections at other institutions.

Digital.Bodleian aims to solve these problems by:

  • Bringing together our discrete collections under a single user interface which supports fast user-friendly viewing of high resolution images.
  • Standardizing the metadata for each collection to facilitate faceted browsing and searching across collections.
  • Converting all of our images in a variety of formats to JPEG2000 and migrating them to a robust scalable storage infrastructure.
  • Allowing users to tag and annotate images and group together content into their own virtual collections which can be shared with other users.
  • Allowing users to export metadata and images.

All of these tasks have been carried out using standards-compliant file formats and methods and with a view to future expansion, scalability and robustness.

The Digital.Bodleian project was initially funded by the JISC as part of the Resource Discovery programme, and began in November 2011.


While the Bodleian has been digitizing some of its special collections for over twenty years, this amounts to only a fraction of our vast holdings. If you would like to explore our special collections further, you may find more information about some special collections through online resources such as SOLO or Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts. Some finding aids, such as card catalogues, are only available in reading rooms. The guides to all of our available finding aids are listed on the SCWMSS Catalogues & Finding Aids page.

If in doubt, please contact us.


Project Director

Judith Siefring, Head of Digital Research

Collections Curation

Emma Stanford, Tim Dungate

Development Team

Andrew Hankinson, Mel Mason

Search and Browse Interface

Armadillo Systems iNQUIRE



Advisory Board
  • Michael Popham, Head of Digital Collections & Preservation Services, Bodleian Libraries (Chair)
  • Sally Rumsey, Head of Scholarly Communications & Research Data Management, Bodleian Libraries
  • Alison Prince, Web Manager, Bodleian Libraries
  • Alexander Huber, Metadata Specialist, Bodleian Libraries
  • Paul Groves, Web Project: Project Manager, Eastern Art Online website
  • Monica Bulger, Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute
  • James Brown, History Faculty, University of Oxford
  • Chris Fletcher, Keeper of Special Collections


If you have questions about the digital collections or problems with the site contact: digitalsupport@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

To contact someone about the collections from which these collections were created contact specialcollections.enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

For questions regarding purchasing a high-resolution copy for publication, please contact imaging@bodleian.ox.ac.uk