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Bodleian Library: centuries of reading and study

The Radcliffe Camera from outside.
The Radcliffe Camera from outside.
A recording today from our home city of Oxford – we go inside the Radcliffe Camera, the most well-known and iconic part of the city’s famous Bodleian Libraries.

The field recording is from inside the grand, reverb-rich upper reading room of the library, and is the sounds of pages being turned and study taking place.

The soundscape is notable in that it’s relatively unchanged from how the reading room would have sounded throughout centuries of reading and study – no mobile ringtones or machine bleeps going on here.

Since by its nature a library field recording is quiet(!), the reimagined version looks to take some of the details of the sound and highlight them with synthetic additions – all of this is underpinned by a vocal commentary from the Bodleian’s archives about how to restore an ancient volume to its former glories.

We take elements of restoration and preservation and apply them here to our own sonic preservation of the library.

City version:


Memory version: