Bod’s book switch completed on schedule

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The Bodleian Libraries yesterday finished a transfer of 7 million books from Oxford to a purpose built warehouse 28 miles away in Swindon.

The Book Storing Facility (BSF), which cost £26 million to create, covers 13 acres and has 153 miles of shelving. It is the new home of some of the Bodleian’s lesser-used material.

The biggest book move in the Bodleian’s history was completed on schedule on December 23rd, and has been hailed as “an extraordinary success”.

Librarian Sarah Thomas said, ‘This has been an important year in the history of the Bodleian.

‘We have tagged and moved all our books, relocated our staff, prepared the New Bodleian building for its redevelopment, opened new facilities for readers in the heart of Oxford and refreshed and developed our IT capabilities.

‘With our new storage facility at Swindon and renewed spaces for study in place or under development in the heart of Oxford, our readers can look forward to significant enhancements to our services in 2012 and beyond.”

With the huge task of storing a copy of every book published in the UK, the Bodleian Libraries had recently been struggling to contain their immense number of volumes. Before the move, the situation was labelled by staff as “desperate”, as overcrowded stacks operated at 130% of their capacity.

The new warehouse, which has the potential to be developed and expanded as bookstores continue to increase, has 3,224 bays with 95,000 shelf levels, as well as 600 map cabinets. These hold over a million maps.

Students have been told that if they order a book from the new unit by 10am, it should be delivered to the Oxford reading room of their choice by 3pm the same day.

Library staff use forklift trucks to retrieve books which are then transported to Oxford by road in a twice-daily service. Meanwhile some items will be scanned and sent to students’ computers electronically. It is estimated there will be 200,000 requests for items each year.

Amy Rollason, a second-year English student at Brasenose, commented, “It seems to have been done very effectively and with little unnecessary disruption. The side-effect of having more journals available online will be a real plus, benefiting those who don’t use the Bod itself as often as well.”

Patrick Reid, a Lincoln medic, also praised the Bodleian’s efforts, suggesting, “This is an impressive milestone for the libraries.” First-year Natasha Heliotis particularly applauded the efficiency of the links between the BSF and Oxford reading rooms, telling Cherwell: “I can’t believe they get sent so soon after ordering!”

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