Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library in Oxford is quite possibly the most over-rated library in the country. It claims to have copies of every book published in England, which actually means that it doesn't have many useful books printed outside England. And yes, it's got some very large number of books, but most of the books are actually in warehouses 10 miles away.

And they don't actually let you borrow anything. That's useful when it's a book labelled as "Essential reading" on your course list and the 10 copies in the department library have already been borrowed by people with tutorials earlier in the week who have now forgotten to take them back so will have to pay a small fine while I have to cope without. But it's not so good because there aren't any 24-hour reading rooms, which was really inconvenient when I was doing teacher training and so at school all through office hours.

Also, in a world centre of literacy or whatever, I found this sign quite amusing....

So many comments:

  • Could I have a staircase with gravy please? Or how about a toilet with lumpy chocolate sauce?
  • Does the notice say they provide drinking fountains but you aren't allowed to use them? I think so
  • Why does Oxford have this thing against drinking water? (you aren't allowed to drink water while doing exams either, though you are allowed to go to the toilet once in a 3 hour exam - I suspect it's a human rights violation and keep toying with the idea of trying to call them on it). Given that when I went into the Bodleian today, I was dripping wet and managed to drip on a few books, surely a better rule would be drinks with sports caps only; no dripping on books.


Anonymous said...

Why are sweets, chewing gum and water(!?) only stuck behind the notice? I guess the students of Oxford have to get rid of their chewing gum somehow and don't want to deface their precious institution!


Anonymous said...

No water in exams? I compulsively slurp the stuff in exams. I must admit, I've never quite instilled myself with enough eagerness to do any 3am reading, though.

Anonymous said...

My major gripe is that my "departmental" library (law) is part of the Bodleian network. Unlike you theologians we lawyers don't have a choice between the Theology Faculty Library and the Bod. I have to use the Bodleian Law Library (BLL). Now while the BLL does purchase a few books, it heavily relies on the Bodleian's entitlement to free books published in the UK which leads to two further gripes.

1) the Library is in the habit of not buying books which means good books published outside the UK (and that's quite a few) don't ever make it to Oxford.
2) Even if the book is published in the UK (and the BLL is thereby entitled to a free copy) it often takes an eternity for the book to make it to the library. It is up to the publisher to forward a free copy to the Bod and some publishers are notoriously slow at sending their free copy to the Bod. In the commercial world of publishing, sending a free copy to Oxford University is not always number 1 on a publisher's list of priorities! It can literally take months after a book has been published in the UK to find its way into the Bod. When you're doing a D.Phil and some academic has just published something of relevance to your thesis topic one does want to read the thing sooner rather than later.