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Vere Harmsworth Library, University of Oxford

Page history last edited by Takahiro Yamamoto 10 years, 2 months ago

Vere Harmsworth Library, University of Oxford



Date of trip: March 2014


Source: Takahiro Yamamoto (t.yamamoto1@lse.ac.uk) 


Location: Vere Harmsworth Library

Rothermere American Institute
1a South Parks Road


How to get there: If you are leaving from London, the easiest way is to take a bus from Victoria. There are two major services, X90 and Oxford Tube. The latter costs 13 GBP for student’s day-return and stops also at Marble Arch, Notting Hill Gate and Shepherd’s Bush (all in London) before taking a highway M40 to Oxford. You can book a ticket online or you can buy it from the driver for the same price. Get off at the bus stop ‘Oxford High Street’. The library is a five-minute walk northwards, on Longwall street, Holywell street and then on to Mansfield Street. 


Language: English


Getting started: This is a library within Rothermere American Institute at University of Oxford. I went there to see the papers of secretary of state William Seward, which they had in microfilm (some 200 reels). The collections are searchable on Oxford’s library catalogue SOLO(http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/index.html). There is no need to book in advance or prepare a reference in order to see the documents. Technically you need to be a member of Bordleian Library to access their materials, but I did not even get my card checked.


Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 9am-7pm. Sat 10am-2pm. Hours may vary during holidays.


General working conditions: This is definitely a good place to work. There is no hustle getting microfilms, no restriction on device usage, and you get a large working space. Wifi works if you have an Eduroam account.


Consultation: No bureaucracy involved to access documents. You can just walk in, open the drawers packed with microfilms on the ground floor, and use the microfilm reader as you please. Laptops allowed, power sockets provided. I did not ask if photographs were permitted because there was no need. They have one PC-based microfilm reader on which you can save documents as PDF files into your USB drive. One or two more traditional (but presumably functional) black-and-white-screen readers are available. First come, first served. For Seward papers I first consulted the index guide in the reference shelf, and then identified the reels I need. The library staff are all friendly and very helpful.


Policy on technology: Everything allowed.


Particularities: I am not sure how extensive their collections are, but this is definitely a good place to check if you are in UK and in need of getting materials related to the nineteenth or twentieth-century US diplomacy.


For lunch there is a sandwich bar a few minutes’ walk away, on the corner of Mansfield Street and Holywell Street. If you prefer something more proper get to the high street and you have a variety of options. 

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