Academics from both Oxford and Cambridge have condemned proposals to allow lending from the Bodleian. The move from the History Faculty is linked to the possibility of allowing lending from the main library. This would contravene the historic oath binding all users which states, “I undertake not to remove from the Library… any object belonging to it”.
Dr William Poole, a Fellow and Tutor in English at New College, told Cherwell, “First the Bodleian ‘managers’ mean to shut down the History Faculty Library. That’s bad enough. But now the Bodleian proposes to become a lending library. The consequences to students are dire and it is worth asking how ‘we’ propose to charge ‘you’ Nine Grand a year when we’ll just lend out books to whoever, so that students can’t read what they have been invited to read.”
Professor G.R. Evans, a professor at Cambridge and resident in Oxford, said she had been using the Bodleian all her adult life, and uses it daily now that she is retired and lives in Oxford. Evans commented, “What is happening in Oxford is going to be bad for students, bad for researchers and doubly bad for research students.”
However, Jim O’Connell, OUSU VP for Graduates strongly disagreed, saying, “The History Faculty Library is not being shut down. It is being moved. Dr Poole’s scaremongering about lending is pure fiction. There is absolutely no prospect of books being lent to ‘whoever’ and neither the Curators nor the Librarian have any intention of this happening.”
The 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.”
Mica Schlosser, a student at Lincoln, told Cherwell, “It is a pity that having been a reference library since 1602, the Bod is being completely transformed.”
Evans claims that if the Bodleian wished to change its policy, the changing of the oath would have to be approved by Congregation.