Oxford's world famous Bodleian library has a problem: it has too many books.

With an aim of owning a copy of every book published in the UK it keeps needing to extend its storage facilities.

Some books - those not frequently requested - are already more or less buried around Oxford, and only available if requested a little while in advance.

Recently though, they've had to abandon plans to store books in West Oxford's Osney Mead, after it became clear there was no way to guarantee the books would remain untouched in a flood.

The departure of 8m books for storage off a motorway on the outskirts of Swindon allows the Bodleian, with its gluttonous 5,000 book intake per week intake, enough room to open a few of them.

The library currently houses 9m books and 100,000 medieval manuscripts.

The expectation is that Swindon will receive around 200,000 requests per year from Oxford, which will still try to get each book to its requester within 24 hours.

The most treasured books will never leave Oxford, but are to be stored in a special area in the science library.

The New Bodleian is to have books removed to open up space for reading and to show off pieces such as Shakespeare First Folio and an original copy of the Magna Carta.

"The new site is an excellent solution: good for the books, good for us," enthused Sarah Thomas, the Bodleian's director.

It was chosen from 90 possible options, and offers 120,000sq ft of space with controls for humidity and temperature, and extensive fire precautions to give the rare books the safekeeping they deserve. 

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