RSL Book Moves Update

Exciting plans are underway to reshape and improve the Radcliffe Science Library!

The refurbished RSL will be a much more comfortable and modern space, open to all members of the University and the Bodleian with access via a separate library entrance. The library will hold a large collection of undergraduate and graduate textbooks for students to consult or borrow including all MPLS and non-clinical MSD reading list materials. The collection will also include all of the textbooks that have been borrowed or consulted in the RSL over the last two years as well as thousands of other textbooks selected by our subject expert Subject Librarians. We anticipate this will be up to c26,000 books in total. Library users will also be able to order books from our Book Storage Facility to use in the RSL as they can now.

The new RSL’s opening hours will be at least what they are now and the library will have an improved variety of individual study spaces with an increased number of group study rooms and improved training facilities as well as retaining current facilities such as accessible study rooms, IT spaces, and vending machines and break out spaces. The library will be warmer in winter and cooler in summer and will have far more comfortable study chairs and other furniture.

You can find out more about the new RSL and the Parks College Project at where you will see the current plans for the new library layout.

RSL Temporary Closure

To allow the building works to take place, the RSL will be closing to readers on 23 December 2019 and will reopen in the summer of 2021. We are keen to minimise disruption to students and so we will be spending much of the Christmas vacation moving our RSL collections, staff and services to a new temporary location in Oxford to be ready for the start of Hilary term 2020.

Subject to approval by Curators and with work now ongoing to finalise the details with the Rothermere American Institute, the History Faculty and the relevant academic divisions, the Bodleian’s science library services will be delivered from the Vere Harmsworth Library from Hilary 2020 until the summer of 2021.

The VHL is the only Bodleian site with sufficient space (after some minor works) for RSL stock and readers that meets the key requirement of being close to the centre of the science site.

All of the books borrowed or used for reference in the RSL over the last two years (including all reading list textbooks) as well as all other books added to the collection since 2017 will be transferred to the VHL and made available to readers. In addition, our Subject Librarians will ensure that new books continue to be added to our open shelves. We anticipate this will be up to c23,000 books in total. There will be a c70/30 split of books on open shelves (the most heavily used) and the VHL local stack (the lower use items) with a fetching service for the stack items available all the time the VHL will be open.

Other books that have not been used in the last two years will be held in our book storage facility but readers will be able to request any of these titles via SOLO for delivery to the VHL or to other Bodleian sites. Any book sent offsite can be put back on to open shelves within a day or two and will be if requested.

The RSL's books are likely to be moved from 9 December onwards and plans are in place to provide a fetching service for readers over the Christmas vacation.

We are very grateful to the VHL/RAI for taking on the RSL staff and users as guests in their space, and we are keen to ensure that the presence of science library services does not cause them inconvenience. The Bodleian is therefore undertaking work in advance of the decant to ensure that any potential inconveniences to current users of the VHL and the RAI building are identified and mitigated. This work includes a consultation on these possible impacts and their amelioration with VHL staff, the Institute, the History Faculty and across the relevant academic divisions that is being undertaken in early Michaelmas Term. The move will also bring benefits to the VHL – these include additional staff to enable longer opening hours and to support collections projects as well as the provision of additional group study rooms and the installation of a door entry security systems.

Work Already Undertaken

It takes some time to move a library as large as the RSL, so in order to minimise disruption to students during Michaelmas Term work was undertaken over the summer vacation to move those books not borrowed or consulted in the last two years to the Book Storage Facility. Our team have now also moved all of the 23,000 books remaining in the RSL to the top floor of the library. This will  help new and returning library users better find their way around the collection and gives library users a change to see how the collections will look in the refurbished RSL and to give us feedback on the arrangements that we can feed  into our plans for the refurbished space.

We constantly monitor how our collections are being used and therefore have very good data on what books are being borrowed or used in the library. However, if you cannot find a specific book that you feel should be on our open shelves then please do let us know. Any book sent offsite can be put back on to open shelves within a day or two and will be if requested.

Want to Know More?

You can find out more about the new RSL and the Parks College Project at where you will see the current plans for the new library layout. These plans are also on display in the RSL.

RSL Subject Librarians and other staff are setting up updates and presentations with a range of student and academic committees and other meetings over Michaelmas across MPLS and MSD departments. We’re keen to update our colleagues on the plans for the refurbished RSL and the temporary location and to get their feedback.

Many of these meetings have already been organised, but if you would like one of our team to come and talk to you and your colleagues then please get in touch.

We are also working with the student representatives on the Parks College Building Group and with other student representatives.

Please send any invitations for meetings or any questions that you might have to and we will be happy assist you.

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