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Oxford University Gazette, 28 April 2005: Notices



Statement by the Curators of the University Libraries

Following the positive findings of its working party to review the initial period of library integration,[1] Council confirmed the principle of integration and endorsed the working party's recommendations, one of which was to explore the potential of a new Humanities Library on the Radcliffe Infirmary site so as to provide improved services more economically, at the same time releasing resources for further investment in the collections and allowing rationalisation of an over-fragmented estate. Since then, the Oxford University Library Services (OULS) has been steadily implementing Council's decisions by incorporating further departmental libraries, by aligning its management structure with the University's divisional organisation, by bringing forward proposals for substantial improvements in the delivery of electronic content[2] and, crucially important, by continuing to develop plans to address major problems stemming largely from the nature of the physical estate.

These problems may be summarised as follows.

  • The OULS is spread over forty-five separate sites.
  • Many of its buildings, though historically significant and much-loved, were not designed to deliver the quality and range of library and information services that academics and students now demand. Others are in urgent need of refurbishment and upgrading.
  • The OULS has run out of space to house collections that grow by over three miles of shelving a year.
  • The costs of the system as presently configured cannot be sustained on the resources available, and funds that the Curators and OULS want to see improving the collections and services to readers are being soaked up by the inefficiencies of the libraries' physical estate.
In the Curators' view the cost-inefficiency of the physical estate is the single biggest obstacle to directing resources to where they are most needed—into enhancing collections and services so that they continue to support teaching and research of the highest international standard. This is an objective to which the Curators are committed, and for which they are responsible to Council.

There has recently been speculation both within and outside the University about the solutions that will be advanced. The strategic approaches favoured by OULS have been outlined in successive versions of its rolling five-year plan, submitted through the Curators as part of the University's annual planning cycle. The development of these strategies can be followed by all members of the University in the papers of the Curators of the University Libraries, and before them the Libraries Committee of Council, which have been available on either the internet or the University intranet since January 1999 ( htm). It may be noted that those responsible for the University's libraries led the way in making administrative papers accessible in this way.

In a statement published in the University Gazette in Hilary Term 2002[3] the Curators confirmed their endorsement of the strategic directions indicated in the OULS five-year plan, which was included in the same Supplement. A proposal to concentrate library provision into a smaller number of better adapted buildings follows naturally from that and has already been successfully implemented in the Social Sciences. As well as the proposal for a Humanities Library with better facilities, including more material on open access, related estates options now being worked up for consultation include a depository which will allow rapid access to stored material, including material now at Nuneham Courtenay or further away; and much better conditions for, and access to, Special Collections in central Bodley. It is intended that these improvements to the physical estate should be complemented by greater investment in electronic resources.

However, since much unease has already been expressed on the matter, the Curators wish to make it clear that the Old Bodleian will remain substantially as it is at present, devoted to reading rooms. Plans for the New Bodleian would be expected to enhance reading room and other provision for readers consulting Special Collections. And, finally, it is no part of the Curators' intention to support any proposals to Council that would involve the Radcliffe Camera no longer serving the academic purposes of the University.

As regards the recommendations that follow from the lengthy and complex review of the OULS staff establishment, [4] they likewise achieve another objective referred to in the planning statements, namely 'exploration of the scope for the removal of anomalies in gradings and conditions of service across the OULS, as well as for the potential for rationalisation (through OMIS and other means), for the enhancement of career development, and for addressing the issues of recruitment, retention and reward of key staff (as an integral part of the University's Human Resources Strategy)'.

The degree of change implicit in the strategic approaches already identified is clearly substantial. Accordingly, the decision-making process for handling detailed proposals deriving from them must be transparent. All those involved in the process—from the development of proposals, through consultation, to decision—will need to be fully briefed on the academic, logistical, personnel and financial implications of the alternatives. That being so, neither the OULS nor the Curators nor the senior officers of the University will be in a position to submit proposals formally for consideration by the University's governing bodies until they are satisfied that the feasibility, costs, benefits and risks of those proposals have been rigorously assessed. When that has been done, proposals will be presented to Council and subsequently to other bodies for consultation; and the arrangements for this will be published in due course.


[1] Report of Council's Working Party to Review the Initial Period of Library Integration, Supplement (1) to Gazette No. 4650, 26 February 2003.
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[2] ELISO: an electronic library and information service for the University of Oxford
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[3] Forward Planning for the Oxford University Library Services: a statement by the Curators of the University Libraries, Supplement (2) to Gazette No. 4617, 20 March 2002.
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[4] Oxford University Library Services: staff establishment review
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Introduction of discount for members of Congregation at the Oxford University Press Bookshop

As a Department of the University, Oxford University Press is pleased to offer a 10 per cent discount for all current members of Congregation on a personal visit to the Bookshop at 116/117 High Street, Oxford OX1 4BZ.

This offer applies to all OUP titles (excluding special offers and promotions) on production of identification in the form of a valid University Card. The scheme will be reviewed on 30 September 2005.

The Bookshop is open Monday–Saturday, 9 a.m–5.30 p.m. (except Wednesday, 9.30 a.m.–5.30 p.m.). Telephone: Oxford 242913, e-mail:, Web site:

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Queen's College

Organ recital

DAVID SANGER, international recitalist, will give a recital of works by J.S. Bach, Buxtehude, and others, at 7.30 p.m. on Saturday, 7 May, in the chapel, Queen's College. The recital is given in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Frobenius organ.

Admission costs £9 (£7 concessions, £4 students; members of Queen's admitted free). Programmes may be reserved by e-mailing Rosemary Rey (e-mail: Further details may be found at

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Professorship of International Development

ADRIAN WOOD (BA, PH.D. Cambridge, MPA Harvard), Chief Economist, Department for International Development, has been appointed by the Social Sciences Board to the professorship with effect from 1 October 2005.

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Professorship of Materials Engineering

ALAN CHARLES FRANCIS COCKS (B.SC. Leicester, PH.D. Cambridge), Head of the Department of Engineering, University of Leicester, has been appointed to the professorship with effect from 1 January 2006.\o Professor Cocks will be a fellow of St Anne's College.

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The composition of the electoral board to the post below, proceedings to fill which are currently in progress, is as follows.

Donald Schultz Professorship of Turbomachinery

                                        Appointed by

Mr Vice-Chancellor                      ex officio
The Master of St 
    Catherine's                         ex officio
Professor P. Gostelow                   Council
Professor M. Giles                      Council
Professor D.C. Clary                    Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Professor R.C. Darton                   Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Professor J. McGuirk                    Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Mr G. Hopkins                           Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Professor J. Foord                      St Catherine's College

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