The library has limited opening hours, but generally appointments may be made during the following hours:
For manuscript and archival material, please contact the archivist directly.
The Museum library holdings number approximately 20,000. Details can be found in the searchable and browseable online library catalogue.
The Museum library serves the needs of students and scholars studying historical themes associated with the Museum collections (chiefly the history of scientific instruments) as well as preserving books, archives, and other paper artefacts as part of the Museum collections themselves.
In addition to its main theme of scientific instruments, the library also has strong antiquarian holdings in those sciences most involved with instrumentation, particularly astronomy, geometry, optics, chemistry, and physics (natural or experimental philosophy). It also has unexpected strengths in some other fields, such as zoology, botany, and the medical sciences, and of course a traditional interest in Oxford science and in the history of museums.
Its rarer books – many of them belonging to the founder’s library – include several incunabula, some interesting bindings, and numerous association copies. A large quantity of rare early pamphlets is also held, and some runs of old scientific periodicals. There are about 15,000 volumes altogether, dating from 1476 to the present. Antiquarian material predominates, but is supplemented by selected modern reference works and historical monographs, by offprints of historical articles, and by some relevant history of science journals. The library also manages the Museum’s important collections of printed ephemera, prints, photographs, and manuscripts.