Teaching Collection Discussion – how the Taylorian Library is responding to your feedback

In Michaelmas Term, students of German were invited to participate in a discussion about the Teaching Collection. There was free tea and cake, and a chance to view some of the library’s rare books. The discussion was frank, open and enjoyable, and has generated many ideas for improvements to the library. We would like to share those ideas here. Any further comments and suggestions are always extremely welcome – please don’t hesitate to email Emma Huber, contact your subject consultant, or speak to any of the library staff (see link to staff contact list, below).


1. Books are not always available when you need them, but it is too time-consuming to inform staff of the problem. The book would probably arrive too late for the essay deadline anyway.

We take this issue very seriously. It is rare for the library to be given copies of reading lists. Without feedback from students, we don’t know if we need more copies of a particular title. We are therefore going to experiment with a range of initiatives to encourage better communication between students and staff. We will have facilities to make quick copies of reading lists at the issue desk. We will make the reporting of unavailable books as quick and easy as possible. We will set up a regular drop-in session for students to bring any concerns to the attention of library staff.

2. You are finding out too late about resources which could be of great use during your studies.

We will set up an information skills session for all students beginning their second year, to cover resources such as the MLA bibliographic database, Google Scholar, as well as how to assess whether a book which isn’t on your reading list is worth reading. We will aim to offer a top-up to students before their year abroad, which will be of particular benefit to those choosing an extended essay option.

3. Some areas of the library are not available to undergraduates, but it isn’t always clear which. You would also like to know why there is a room 10b (among other questions!).

We will begin a “tip of the week” series on the notice board and on the library Facebook page, to raise awareness of quirks and features of the library, which will help you get the most out of this complicated building.

4. The role of the subject consultant, and the online help available in the form of LibGuides, is not well enough advertised

We will produce print versions of the online LibGuides and monitor how helpful they are. These will be available in the reading room. (See LibGuides link below.)

Subject consultants (there is one for each subject and they are here to help!) will try to raise their profile, for example through holding regular drop-in sessions for readers.

5.    You don’t know we have rare books!

We will try to raise awareness of our rare books through events and seminars. All students are able to request to read our rare books using the ordering slips at the Enquiry Desk.


Other issues raised, such as opening hours, classification, and access to the research collection, require further consultation, but are being looked at again in the light of comments made. The reclassification of the Teaching Collection will be a priority from September 2016.

We are very grateful to the discussion participants for their willingness to share their experience of the library. We will be holding similar sessions at least annually, and welcome feedback and suggestions for improvement at any time.


Useful contacts (links open in new windows):

tay-enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk – use this to report any issues with the library

+44 (0) 1865 278158 (West) – if you prefer to phone

http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/taylor – the library website

http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/taylor/about/contact/staff – list of the specialist staff who are here to help!

http://libguides.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/modern-languages – Modern Languages LibGuide, with links to language-specific guides


Emma Huber, Subject Consultant for German, including Yiddish, May 2015: emma.huber@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

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