Bodleian road to renewal or ruin? 1

April 8, 2005

The conclusion reached in The Times Higher last week ("Bodleian may not survive cut intact", April 1) is so far from describing the situation accurately that I can only hope it was intended as an April fool.

However, in case any readers thought otherwise, I should like to make the facts clear.

First, the Bodleian will remain the valued centrepiece of Oxford University's world-renowned library system. Under the process of library integration, the Bodleian, far from being "broken up", will be strengthened. Its pivotal role as the university's principal research library will be developed to make it fit for another 400 years of service to scholarship.

The "outhousing" of millions of the Bodleian's lesser-used books is nothing new, since the old library buildings have long been incapable of containing the hundreds of thousands of new printed items that come in each year.

The construction of a new depository in Oxford with a fast retrieval system is simply a sensible solution to a longstanding problem. You failed to note that the old reading rooms will continue with their present role strengthened, and that the new Bodleian will provide enhanced access to those very materials for which the library is world famous.

Millions of pounds are being invested in this exciting programme of renewal. Your erroneous reporting about "many" job losses and "huge" backlogs does scant justice to our careful plans, which will achieve greater cost-effectiveness within the complex Oxford library system while bringing it to even higher levels of service and usefulness.

Ronald Milne
Acting director
university library services

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