Adventures of An Aspiring Librarian

Cambridge and Oxford

on January 23, 2014

As part of our seminar, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to both Oxford and Cambridge University to see various libraries there. We went to see the Wren Library and the Polar Museum Library at Cambridge, and the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

The ceiling in the Polar Library

The ceiling in the Polar Library

Cambridge, Wren Library

Cambridge, Wren Library

Oxford University

Oxford University

These are rival universities, but they both have so much to offer in terms of libraries and fascinating and rare books. At Cambridge University, we were allowed to go to the Wren Library, where we saw a handwritten copy of Winnie the Pooh, a manuscript from Galileo, and a Shakespeare folio. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos of these treasures, but it was a sight to see!  We also visited the Polar Library, which is the world’s largest library devoted to the study of the North and South Pole and the issues related to them. Some more pictures of Cambridge are below:

Making a massive slab of fudge in Cambridge

Making a massive slab of fudge in Cambridge


King’s College, Cambridge


Punting along the river in Cambridge

At Oxford University, we went to the Bodleian Library and the Oxford University Press. The Bodleian Library was every librarian’s dream library, and as much as I loved Cambridge’s Wren Library, the Bodleian won me over simply because of its beauty and tradition. It is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and has over 11 million items. The classification system was really odd though—the books were sorted by size rather than any specific subject or number. Some books were even chained to the shelves just as they were when the library was first opened.

The Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library

One of my favorite parts of the Oxford trip was the opportunity to see the “Magical Books” exhibit, where we saw manuscripts from JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and JK Rowling. As a self proclaimed fantasy fan, this was a dream come TRUE! After all of these tours in the rain, we went to warm up in one of the most literary pubs in the UK…the Eagle and Child. JRR Tolkien, the author of the Lord of the Rings, and CS Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia, used to meet in this pub to discuss faith, politics, and of course, writing. 🙂



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