Wednesday, 4 July 2012

You're a Wizard, Harry!

Today we took a trip to Oxford, which is only about an hour train ride out of Paddington Station (the ride's a lot shorter if you nap through most of it). Oxford is absolutely gorgeous, as you may imagine, and the University itself is no exception. Gothic structures loom from every direction and if the buildings look like they are right out of a Harry Potter film, it's probably because many of them are!

Like this one:
The Divinity School, Oxford- used as the infirmary in the Harry Potter films

And this one: 
The stairs to the Great Hall in Christ Church- used as the stairs to the Great Hall in Hogwarts

But, back to the more serious library business. Our main stop in Oxford was The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. (Woot, woot- I figured out how to link things.)

These are the most mind-blowing tidbits I learned today:
  • The Bodleian Library was originally the Duke Humfrey Library, which was built in 1488 and was consequently destroyed 60-some years later during the Protestant Reformation
  • Fortunately, the library was rescued by Sir Thomas Bodley and was reopened in the early 1600s and contains the first examples of floor to ceiling bookshelves
  • Books used to be chained to the shelves! 
  • Since then, The Bodleian Library has obtained a copy of EVERY book published in England
  • It acquires roughly 3,000 books per week and currently touts approximately 11 million items in its collection- a New Bodleian Library was built in 1936-1948 to help house allllll the books and is currently being remodeled
  • It is not a lending library, but has 32 reading rooms available for students and scholars to use
  • All restoration of the books is done in house
  • The library is located directly above The Divinity School (pictured above), which is the reason for the flattened arches in the architectual design- the exceptional weight of the stacks of books could not be supported with the usual gothic design
  • Kenneth Grahame bequeathed the royalties from 'The Wind in the Willows' to The Bodleian Library
  • Sections of the library were used in, you guessed it, the Harry Potter films- I have stood where Daniel Radcliffe once stood. Swoon.
In addition to The Bodleian Library, we took a tour of Christ Church and its library, which was also a great treat. The library was, of course, breathtaking.  


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