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The Codrington Library is, like all Oxford college libraries, an independent institution. Its modern collections are particularly strong in law and history, especially the history of Britain and early modern Europe, and military history. Philosophy, sociology, and the history of science are also well represented.

The Library welcomes applications for admission (supported by a recommendation from tutor or supervisor) by law and history undergraduates, and graduate students of the University of Oxford. Junior members in other faculties may also apply for admission. The Bodleian card is in itself not sufficient to secure entry to the Library.

The early collections, accessible by appointment to bona fide scholars, are rich in almost every subject, and supported by a growing collection of books on bibliography and book history.

The Library is in the process of having all its books catalogued on to universally accessible electronic resources. For the early collections (up to 1801), this is well on the way to completion (see ESTC and SOLO). Almost all of the modern collections have also been catalogued, though work is still on-going to complete this retrospective conversion from the card catalogue in some areas.