Growth of the LSE Library leads to Huge storage problems

December 4, 1998

Just about every measure of library activity at the British Library of Political and Economic Science at the London School of Economics shows expansion.

Librarian Jean Sykes believes this reflects the general upward trend in demand in universities.

Ms Sykes, director of information services at the LSE, says the "tremendous increase in the LSE library's operations over the past few years - never mind the past 20" covers just about everything from registered student borrowers to book issues and use of teaching collections and offprints.

The number of new periodicals at the library has risen in the past seven years by more than a quarter to 380.

The number of manuscripts held has risen by 11 per cent to 24,370. Total bookstock is up by 14.5 per cent, breaching the million mark and standing at just over 1.1 million.

"This creates big storage and space implications, which we hope will be substantially alleviated by refurbishment," Ms Sykes says. The library could close or move for up to 18 months as the refurbishment is done.

The number of registered LSE users has also risen by 32 per cent to 7,600. They are voracious readers with loans up 280 per cent to 1.2 million:

"Think of the work entailed at the library counter and in re-shelving these issues," Ms Sykes says.

The number of enquiries has grown by 110 per cent to 66,654 and dealing with them is quite a workload.

"I think the increase is probably as much due to the proliferation of complex information sources for users to cope with as it is to the increase in student numbers," she adds.

Like many other libraries, the LSE's has notched up a spectacular increase in online searches, which are up 980 per cent to nearly 11,000 annually.

"It shows universities have espoused electronic materials in a big way while still buying as many books as possible," Ms Sykes says.

Just about the only area where the LSE library cannot boast of a dramatic increase over the past seven years is the number of staff it can afford to employ - the number of full-time equivalents has risen by four to 79.

"Like many other libraries, the use of new technology has helped to generate this value for money by allowing processes and procedures to be streamlined.

But it has also been made possible by efforts to work more efficiently and cooperation, not just between our own staff but with others, notably the IT staff - and with other libraries."

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