Collection management policy

The Bodleian Libraries seek to make the most effective use of their immensely rich existing holdings and to build on them for the future, while adapting to shifting funding levels, to changes in the availability of space, and to the expectations for support from a large, active and diverse academic community.

1. Purposes and status of this document

This policy statement articulates the principal intentions of the Bodleian Libraries for the future of their collections and of access to their resources. It is a public statement for the information of readers and the world of scholarship at large, as well as serving as a working document for the University and the Bodleian Libraries.

 'Collection management' is understood here as including collection development (that is, the selection and acquisition of materials and the provision of online resources), and extends beyond this to continuing effective management of collections. This management includes: budget allocations; ownership and security marking and binding; preservation (including the location, storage, security and movement of stock); retention, weeding and disposal; and the facilitation of reader access. Collection management is founded on agreed reader-focused policy and covers all types of materials and resources.

This document is a revised version of the Collection management policy statement approved by the Curators of the University Libraries in 2002 and replaces it. The policy will be reviewed every year and changes presented to the Curators for approval.

2. Collection management in the Bodleian Libraries

The Curators of the University Libraries are charged to ensure that 'provision is made for the University's library and information requirements for teaching and research' and that 'the University's major research libraries are maintained as a national and international scholarly resource'.

In their management of collections and resource access, the aim of the Bodleian Libraries is to carry out this dual task, and to seek funds internally and externally that are sufficient to realise this aim. An essential element in performing these roles is close cooperation between the Bodleian Libraries and other libraries within the University, including college and departmental libraries. The Bodleian Libraries actively seeks opportunities to collaborate with other institutions locally, regionally, nationally and internationally in the interests of more effective provision.

3. Funding and expenditure

The University of Oxford in its current strategic plan aims to 'achieve and sustain excellence in every area of its teaching and research, maintaining and developing its historical position as a world class university'. The provision of library collections for teaching and research are crucial to supporting a world class university and this provision needs to be resourced appropriately. Because effective collection management is contingent upon proper resourcing, it is also important to demonstrate the relationship between collection management policies and the funding needed to support them. Funding is allocated annually in consultation with the academic divisions of the University in compliance with the University's model for allocating infrastructure charges to academic departments. Priorities are set to show the preferred responses to deal with changes in funding levels, and hence the consequences of any underfunding for the achievement of the overall aims of the Bodleian Libraries (see 2 above) and any more specific objectives.

In their use of the funding available, the Bodleian Libraries weigh and prioritise the immediate needs of readers and the long term development of research collections for future generations.

External funding has been, and continues to be, sought and accepted in pursuit of the Bodleian Libraries' aims, both from public and private sources. Obligations arising from the acceptance of outside funding will be fully met.

4. Liaison and consultation with readers

It is crucial to the construction and implementation of a successful collection management policy that readers' views are given full weight through sound liaison and consultation arrangements. In particular, collection management must be responsive to evolving research and teaching needs.

The Bodleian Libraries aim to ensure both formal and informal contact with their readers by means of:

  • Committees on Library Information Provision and Strategy (CLIPS), which advise on library services for specific subject areas, including collection management issues, and other appropriate departmental and divisional committees and boards.
  • Subject librarians, all of whom have explicit responsibility for maintaining an effective liaison network with individuals and University bodies concerned with their subject areas.
  • Feedback channels, including suggestion boxes, feedback forms and social media.

CLIPS and subject librarians communicate directly with those responsible for acquiring materials.

5. Collection policies for subjects, libraries and special categories of material

5.1. To complement this general document, subject librarians have formulated collection management policies for each subject which have been discussed with CLIPS and other interested parties. Interdisciplinary studies – such as area studies – have been approached on the same basis. Together with the present statement and other supporting documents, these form Bodleian Libraries policy on collection management. They apply across the boundaries of individual library sites and are publicly accessible as a basis for the effective use and promotion of the collections, as well as informing subject-related bids for library funding.

College libraries are an integral part of the provision which is made to support students in their academic activities. College librarians work in a spirit of collaboration and co-operation with the Bodleian Libraries in order to bring the rich diversity of their collections to the attention of the widest possible audience.

Similarly, the part played by departmental libraries outside the Bodleian Libraries in providing resources for research and teaching is recognized.

These statements also specify the responsibilities of individual libraries for the support of each subject in teaching and research, and allocate obligations to one or more libraries for the support of each taught course. They take into account the make-up of resources needed; the appropriate mix of multiple print copies, electronic and reference-only stock; and the extent of access that can be provided. There is a trend towards electronic-only provision of journals in many disciplines and other publication formats are increasingly available electronically. In choosing to acquire electronic or print or a combination, the Bodleian Libraries will consider what is appropriate for the subject area.

Effective provision of information resources cited on reading lists helps students to excel in their studies. Collection management for taught courses may include: reading list tracking and enhancement; digitisation services and copyright compliance; e-books and support for e-readers; linking citations to catalogue information and full-text content; the provision of complementary materials for research methods and key reference works; and more.

The statements also take into account the location of collections; the space available; and the degree of stock mobility needed to achieve optimum service. High demand and high use collections are made available where possible on open shelves in libraries in Oxford; low use collections are stored in the Book Storage Facility.

5.2. For this purpose the statements by subject are complemented by a statement of the collection management responsibilities of each library. Libraries work together to collect and resource access in interdisciplinary fields of study, and to cover subjects which are outside the University’s current academic interests but are of importance to the wider research community supported by the Bodleian Libraries.

5.3. The international reputation of existing special collections in Oxford and their vital importance to the library services is recognised, as is the need for resources adequate for their further development; their improved storage, conservation and access; and the extension and standardisation of their listing and cataloguing. A collection management policy for special collections within the Bodleian Libraries as a whole has been prepared to complement statements on provision for individual subjects, taking into account that the composition of many such collections gives them an important interdisciplinary relevance. This is annexed as a supporting document.

6. Legal Deposit

The Bodleian Libraries are committed to ensuring that the legal deposit privilege is retained by Oxford for the benefit of all their library users, and that its operation yields a suitable range of material to meet the research needs of the University and of the wider readership which the Bodleian Libraries serve.

Reader needs will be taken into account when deciding in what format legal deposit material should be acquired and, if acquired in print, where it should be housed, subject to specified conditions for access, security and preservation which acknowledge that it is intended for permanent retention and preservation. As far as funding permits, deposited copies of texts used to support undergraduate reading lists and therefore potentially subject to heavy use will be protected by the use of additional copies. Retention and discarding policies applicable to legal deposit material are determined in consultation with other deposit libraries.

Legal deposit material provided electronically will be acquired and stored by the British Library, National Library of Scotland and National Library of Wales, and access will be provided in Bodleian Libraries' reading rooms via the resource discovery tool SOLO.

 A Legal Deposit Policy Statement is annexed as a supporting document.

7. Retention, disposal and transfer

A detailed policy statement on the retention and disposal of library materials is annexed as a supporting document. The policy deals with the definition of categories of material for retention or non-retention; the identification of primary retention copies and the criteria for acquiring substitute copies; the replacement of missing stock; guidelines for weeding and disposal; appraisal and planning of duplication; and criteria for deciding the transfer of material between libraries. The costs of implementation (e.g. identification, recataloguing, rehousing, acquisition of surrogates) will be realistically assessed.

8. Donations

A detailed policy statement on donations is annexed as a supporting document. Oxford library collections owe much to the generosity of donors and other benefactors. Offers of donations to the Bodleian Libraries are welcomed and will be carefully considered under the guidelines set out in the annexed supporting document. The Bodleian Libraries nevertheless reserves the right to decline offers of material.

9. Policy of non-discrimination

Within the terms of this statement and its supporting documents, the Bodleian Libraries will not exclude material or restrict access to resources on the grounds of an author's race, nationality, sex or opinions, nor because of partisan or doctrinal considerations. Acquiring an item, or providing access to a resource, does not imply endorsement of any statements or opinions contained therein.

ANNEX: supporting documents

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