The Balfour Library

The Balfour Library is one of the UK’s leading museum research and teaching libraries for the study of anthropology, archaeology and world music, holding around 20,000 books, 12,000 pamphlets and 300 journal titles.

Opening hours

The Balfour Library is located on the first floor of the Pitt Rivers Museum. Entrance ONLY via Museum South Door, Robinson Close (off South Parks Road). Please ring bell for Reception and sign in.

Term-time: Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm. (Hours and arrangements subject to change at short notice.) Research visits by prior appointment.

Vacation: by appointment with Librarian.

Registering and borrowing

Any member of the the University of Oxford may register as a reader, but borrowing is normally restricted to academic staff, undergraduate and postgraduate students of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and School of Archaeology, as well as Human Sciences undergraduates. Other current University of Oxford members may be given borrowing rights, and external readers admitted for reference only use, at the discretion of the Librarian.

Special arrangements during Coronavirus pandemic: Click-and-collect books may be collected and dropped off via Reception. If you are unable to access click-and-collect for the Balfour Library please e-mail

Please note that there is currently no general reading room space. If you need to speak to a member of library staff, ask at reception or e-mail the Librarian.

Holdings and services

The library holds about 20,000 books, 12,000 pamphlets and 300 journal titles (of which about 150 are current), on the subjects of Archaeology and Anthropology, especially in relation to material culture, art, world music and photography. The Balfour Library was founded  in 1939 following the donation of around 4000 books and 6000 pamphlets by Lewis Balfour, bequeathed to him by his late father Henry Balfour, the first Curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Services: Photocopier, microfiche, access to OLIS (Oxford Libraries Information Services), to which it contributes bibliographic records. Please note we are unable to offer inter-library loans or copying at this time.

Contacting the Library

Address: Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PP, UK
Telephone: +44 1865 270 939
Librarian: Mark R. Dickerson

Search the Catalogue

SOLO, Oxford University's online library catalogue, lists around 60% of the Balfour titles. The Balfour Library holdings have a BAL sublocation.