2020 marks the 700th anniversary of the decision to build the first purpose-built library for the University of Oxford.
In 1320 Adam de Brome, the Rector of St Mary’s Church, began the construction of a building to house a new library for the use of students in the University, at the expense of Thomas de Cobham, Bishop of Worcester. The new building was also to house a gift of his books, which were to be chained, and made available to students.
Since then the central University library has gone through an amazing history of growth, reduction, attack and renewal, especially through the re-founding of the library in 1602 by Sir Thomas Bodley. Today the Bodleian Libraries embrace all the centrally-funded libraries of the University, with physical collections well in excess of 13 million volumes, and with digital collections and services of great size and scope. The Bodleian serves the academic community of the University of Oxford, and since its refounding by Sir Thomas Bodley, also serves the international community of scholarship.
The 700th anniversary gives an opportunity to reflect on the role that libraries have played and continue to play in society.
The conference will therefore consider the past, present and future of libraries in this broad context and will gather academics from relevant disciplines, leading practitioners from the world of libraries and archives, and specialists from the world of media, science, and communication to discuss and debate the place of libraries.