Bodleian considers controversial lending

By Jonathan Tomlin

Concerns have been raised over the Bodleian Library’s considerations of increasing the number of books available for loan.

The Library has said that it would re-evaluate its current lending policies.

William Poole, a Fellow Librarian and Galsworthy Fellow at New College, has written an article that will appear in the Oxford Magazine criticising the proposals

He said: “Hands have been wringing across Oxford over the last few months as more of us awake from our self-induced slumbers and become aware of What is Really Happening in the Bodleian Library.”

He added that the consequences for students would be “dire” as it would be more difficult for undergraduates to access books.

The Bodleian currently lends a small proportion of its books. Of its 11 million volume collection, roughly 1.6 million are currently available for loan, but these are mostly from faculty libraries.

The Po-Chung Collection in the Gladstone Link introduced lending within the main Bodleian Library.

Poole added that, as tutors, the lending in the Gladstone library “has already caused many of us to rend our clothing on the right hand and on the left” because neither they nor their students can access necessary reading.

He added that this was happening at the same time as the trebling of the tuition fees, exclaiming: “O brave new world.”

The Bodleian has pointed out that Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Cambridge all allow lending at all their libraries.

But Poole said that it was “brainless to follow error simply because it may be rechristened precedent.”

A spokesperson for the Bodleian said: “At the moment there are no changes to the existing policy on lending. However throughout 2012 the Bodleian Libraries will be consulting with the University over the existing arrangements for lending and are encouraging debate and discussion on this issue, as part of their normal review of policies.

“We are reviewing lending policies at other universities and are working to ensure we learn from their approach.”