SSL Love Books Project

We at the Bodleian Social Science Library are constantly working to improve the quality of the services that we provide for the readers and members of the University of Oxford who use our resources to support their studies. One of the ways that we have chosen to do this is through the ‘SSL ♥ Books Project’, launched Monday 3rd March 2014, which aims to promote the care and welfare of our collection.

Take a look at our video describing the project. More information on the project can be found on this page below.

As part of the project three training videos were also produced. These training videos can be found on the SSL's YouTube channel.

Repairing books

Every term at least 250 items are sent for repair. This means that a member of Library staff has identified them as being too damaged to remain in circulation, and the reasons for this can range from torn and stained pages making text unreadable, to deteriorated and disintegrated bindings causing books to fall apart.

On average it can take 22 days for an item to return to circulation once it has been sent for repair and, as many are too damaged to be repaired in-house, they must either go to the commercial bindery or be withdrawn completely and replaced. This means that cumulatively the academic year 2012-13 led to books being out of circulation for over 5,000 days!

Here you can see the SSL's book repair cycle:

SSL book repair cycle

Click for full repair cycle image (PDF, 361 KB)

Replacing books

Like all Libraries the SSL has to balance the need to make resources available to readers with the need to build and preserve our collection, and repairing and replacing books is an expensive endeavour. The SSL spent over £2,000 during 2013-14 on replacement copies of items that could not be repaired, and this has a direct impact on the number of new copies which we are able to then purchase.

Often the books that are damaged have been in circulation for a long time and so are ‘out of print’. This means that getting hold of a copy at all can be extremely difficult, and getting hold of a good quality that meets the high standards that readers may rightfully expect from the Bodleian Libraries can be even more so.

There is no guarantee that older books that we are forced to remove from circulation can be replaced in a timeframe that is suited to the busy academic schedules of our readers, and this combined with the fact that over 200 staff hours were spent in 2012-13 conducting in-house repairs would suggest that the most sensible course of action would be to avoid damaging the books at all.

Book care tips

We have compiled a selection of book care tips that, we hope, will enable our readers to take better care of the books they may have at home or that they have borrowed from the Library. By helping them to understand that the small decisions we make when we handle books can make a big impact in the long-run, we aim to foster a more positive reading experience for us all.


We love feedback at the SSL and would very much like to hear what you think. You can talk to us either by coming in to the Library, phoning or e-mailing us, or contacting us through social media. All of the ways to contact us to let us know what you think are on our feedback page.

Make your mark on the world, not in a book!

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