After you begin your studies, you should ask your tutor right away which libraries are the best for the books he or she will assign. All the libraries are decentralized and each has its own admissions policy.
Associate Members may thus be admitted to the faculty (departmental) libraries in most cases. Each such library has its own policies. Normally, as in the Bodleian, borrowing is not permitted.
Your college libraries offer you free use on the same basis as matriculated students. Borrowing is permitted. Remember that it is normal to spend about $150 a term on books in Oxford. If you have any difficulties, you should consult with your own tutor, or with OSAP staff, all of whom will do their best to help.
Naturally, like all other students, you should obey the rules of each library. All libraries have the right to ban students from admission if the rules are violated. Your college will take a dim view of this if they are informed, as they would be. As a courtesy to other students, you should not borrow more books than you can read in three days, and you should return those books as soon as you have finished with them. Oxford students “use” (skim) a great many books each week, far more than is usual at most U.S. colleges.
Associate Members are permitted to use the main university library (the Bodleian) during normal opening hours on the same basis as degree candidates.
We have had many discussions with students, teachers and librarians to find the best way for you to obtain the books that you will need for your tutorials. We have found that almost all the students (including British students) rely heavily on their own college libraries, which are designed to provide the books most used in tutorials offered by the college.
The advisers and tutors we have talked to agree that one solution to the problem of easier library access is that many (not all) of your tutors will be able to lend you hard-to-get books.
OSAP has built up a small but useful library which has a good number of books in the fields that overseas students tend to study (English literature, politics and international relations, history, the European Union, etc.) Students may borrow from this library and will hopefully find it very convenient.
Your advisers are convinced this system will make it easier for you to gain access to the books you will need in Oxford. You will have access to at least 10 million books while you are in Oxford. You will have to be prepared to make use of a large system which is sometimes not easy to use.
The authorities at Oxford, like all universities, change their policies from time to time, so a change in these policies is always a possibility.
"I would say OSAP is better because there is more integration with British students and a better safety net. Plus, the housing is better."
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