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Supported by:
  Heritage Lottery Fund, Cambridge.
  Bodelian Library, Oxford.
  Nityanand Shastri Library Collection, Delhi.
  Kashmir Bhavan Centre, Luton.
Institutional Support
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Bodleian Library, Oxford University:

By the end of the 16 th century the splendid library founded by Duke Humphrey of Gloucester in the previous century had fallen to squalor. Its books were dispersed, its bookshelves been sold while its buildings stood empty and forlorn. Seeing this state of things Sir Thomas Bodley Kt, considered to stem the damage to learning . An excellent scholar himself Sir Thomas was also a lover of learning in others and owner of huge estate wealth. So he desired leave of the Oxford University to rebuilt and furnish Duke Humphrey’s Library at his own costs and charges.
In a letter dated Feb 23, 1597 Sir Thomas Bodley wrote to the Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, “ I will take the charge and cost upon me to reduce it (the library) again to its former use”. It followed with another commitment dated December12, 1610 when at the request of Sir Bodley, Stationers Hall, London , guaranteed and confirmed to the University that any book published by them thereafter would freely give one perfect book of each towards furnishing and increase of the said library. Ever afterwards under this agreement the Bodleian was to have a right to a copy of every book printed in Britian. Sir Thomas Bodley died on January 28,1612 and after his death was declared by University of Oxford to be the Founder of the library which bears his name. At the beginning of the 18 th century the library was not only larger than that of any university in Europe but it exceeded those of all the sovereigns in Europe except the Emperor’s and French Kings. Being a non lending library from the time of its inception the Bodleian Library maintains such tradition. Two important refusals bear the stamp of this legacy.

Inside view of
Duke Humphrey's Library.

In 1645 Bodley’s Librarian received through the Vice Chancellor an instruction from Charles-I to deliver the bearer for use of His Majesty a book stating that the instruction ‘shall be your warrant’. Since the Founder’s statutes forbade the sending of books out of the building the order was refused and King Charles cancelled his warrant. In the year 1654 Lord Oliver Cromwell sent a letter to the Vice Chancellor to borrow a book for the Portugal Ambassador. A copy of statute was sent but not the book. When His Highness read it, “ he was so satisfied and commended the prudence of the Founder who had made the place so sacred”.

Bodleian Library has a collection of about 50,000 volumes of manuscripts in addition to about 2 million printed books. Among its unique literary treasures are the earliest manuscripts of Chanson de Roland and the only copy of the earliest printed work of Shakespeare. Even though Sir Bodley lived and died rich his descendents (the grand children of his sister) namely William Snoshill and Mrs. Thomas Hatton fell into poverty and had to apply to the munificent Keepers of the Library for charity and compassion. It was granted to them when the Curators of the Library allowed them Pounds 4 out of the library funds to which Dr. Altham, Professor. of Hebrew and Dr. Hudson, the Librarian gave each 10 shillings more.

Bird's eye view of Bodleian Library
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