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University of Oxford
Mission of the Oxford University Library Services (OULS)
To provide the most effective university library service possible, in response to current and future users' needs; and to maintain and develop access to Oxford's collections as a national and international research resource. Summary of the Vision for 2008
By 2008, the OULS will be delivering a much more user-focussed and technologically sophisticated library service, revitalised to meet the contemporary information needs of a world-class teaching and research institution and of the wider world of scholarship generally. This will be achieved, as resources permit, by reorganising and reconfiguring the basic infrastructures (managerial, operational, physical and technical) of the centrally-funded libraries in the University, building on the integrated approach initiated in 1997, formalised in 2000, and subsequently extended. The background: library integration
The Oxford University Library Services (OULS) was formally established, with the approval of the University, in February 2000. Governed by the Curators of the University Libraries (a committee of the University Council), and managed by the Director of University Library Services and Bodley's Librarian, the OULS is now an integrated organisation consisting of 30 centrally-funded libraries (as well as a number of library service units). [See Table] The governance of the OULS is assisted by a network of widely representative functional and subject committees reporting to the Curators (and, in certain cases, jointly to relevant academic bodies), and its staff are organised in a range of functional teams and subject groups reporting to the Director and the OULS Strategy Team. [Full details at: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ulsd/oxonly/ulssg/ and http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/oxonly/lib/]
Forward plans are currently being put in place for the addition of more libraries to the OULS from 2003-4 onwards. At the same time, the OULS itself is now set within a wider divisional grouping of University services - the Academic Services and University Collections (ASUC) - in the context of the organisation of the University into five academic divisions under the Planning and Resource Allocation Committee and the University Council. The strategy and resourcing of the University's central libraries are thus fully integrated within the streamlined planning mechanisms of the institution.
In order to align OULS strategy with the plans of the University and its academic divisions, a range of formal and informal consultative mechanisms are exploited. Against this background, particular consideration is being given to the role, resourcing and management of non-OULS departmental libraries (mostly in the Sciences). Attention is also being given, in collaboration with the Committee of College Libraries (whose current Chairman is a University Libraries Curator), to the co-ordination of OULS provision with the services offered by the college libraries sector.
As a result of all these developments, the University of Oxford now possesses at its centre, for the first time in its long history, a library service which, because of its integrated structure, is able to take a system-wide overview of the key infrastructural challenges affecting the provision of a central library service in Oxford, and of the task of responding coherently and effectively to users' needs.
The collections of primary research materials within the OULS libraries are as important and as extensive as any held by higher education institutions anywhere in the world. It is an integral part of the OULS mission to develop and exploit these collections for the benefit of scholarship generally, and to retain and preserve them for posterity.
Strategic and financial planning
The integrated organisational context provides the necessary basis for a strategic approach to planning in the library sector and for the development of a coherent and forward-looking plan for library and information services in Oxford, based on the enhanced management and exploitation of its extraordinarily rich and diverse library collections. The OULS is actively pursuing its plans for the transformation of library services, through the systematic redevelopment of the managerial, operational, physical and technical infrastructure of the central library system over the 5 year planning period. At the same time, and given the University's ongoing financial constraints, the OULS intends to take advantage of its integrated budget to make better use of limited resources, as far as possible without reductions in service - the principal mechanisms for such a strategy being the University's Restructuring and Investment Fund (RIF) and a further round of the Oxford Mobility Incentive Scheme (OMIS).
The managerial (staff) infrastructure
Starting from the premise that the staff are a key resource, and building on the integrated approach, the reform of the OULS managerial infrastructure is being addressed, as an enabling strategy to improve the library system's performance, cost-effectiveness, and accountability. Financial transparency is being enhanced, through the introduction of new budgetary, accounting and financial planning mechanisms (the 2002 Activity Costing Review and the University-wide introduction of the OSIRIS system will form key elements in this approach); a Human Resources strategy will be developed which, within the context of a major staff establishment review, will include a review of senior posts, and an exploration of the scope for the removal of anomalies in gradings and conditions of service across the OULS, as well as for the potential for rationalisation and cost savings (through RIF/OMIS and other means), for the enhancement of career development, and for addressing the issues of recruitment, retention and reward of key staff (as an integral part of the University's Human Resources Strategy); staff training and development will continue to be improved, with the intention of equipping staff with the necessary range of new skills; an integrated approach is being taken to the management of library collections, with the aim of reducing unplanned duplication throughout the system, of building on existing strengths, and with the ultimate goal of having "the right information in the right place at the right time, and in the most appropriate format"; the staff management structures are being reorganised, with a much greater emphasis on the provision of integrated subject-based services, tailored to the particular needs of user constituencies both within and beyond the University. Preservation activity will be further reorganised, and expanded; IT systems development and support is being strengthened; other administrative support functions are being streamlined, and common services developed wherever possible; and fundraising and income-generation activities are being enhanced. All of these developments have as their ultimate aim the improvement of the library staff's ability to deliver a more responsive and effective service, for the direct benefit of library users.
The operational (service) infrastructure
In service terms, the integrated approach will enable the library system's operational infrastructure to be progressively enhanced over the next few years. The integration of so many libraries has opened up the possibility of reorganising the delivery of many of the key public services which have tended hitherto to develop along separate lines. A more coherent and planned approach will therefore be taken to service issues such as: opening hours; admissions procedures (in concert with the development of ISIDORE); the provision of information and library skills to support learning, teaching and research; the completion and upgrade of the online catalogue of printed holdings (OLIS) and its further development in technological sophistication; the creation of an integrated inter-library loans service, and the development of an electronic document delivery service; improvements to book delivery (where the recent successful introduction of an automated stack request system is already beginning to pay dividends); the enhancement of access to manuscript and archival holdings by the extended provision of machine-readable records; general and subject-based reference services; imaging services (including digital copying on demand); microform reading facilities; printing from library computers; access to electronic information resources; and service standards. By 2008, integrated operational developments in all these areas should have significantly improved the service levels experienced by library users generally. In addition, in order to ensure that this vision of an enhanced library service is successfully communicated to the users of the OULS, it is the intention to develop an effective communications strategy that will clearly articulate these developments to the user communities and that will more publicly present a coherent view of the OULS and its plans.
The physical infrastructure
The delivery of many of these managerial and operational enhancements, however, will depend crucially on a number of urgently needed changes in the library system's physical infrastructure. Accommodation-related issues and, especially, the ad hoc nature of library growth in Oxford, have represented the most significant single infrastructural constraint on library services in the past. They constitute the biggest single obstacle to the realisation of the service enhancement vision which is outlined here. For this reason, the OULS has given a great deal of attention to the formulation of a long-term accommodation strategy, the implementation of which is the key enabling element underpinning the vision of a new paradigm of library service. (A copy of the strategy is appended to this document, and forms an integral part of the plans delineated here.) In particular, the desperate need for the continuation, and acceleration, of the libraries' storage repository programme (focussed hitherto at Nuneham Courtenay, but now also incorporating the urgent necessity of storage provision at Osney Mead) will be pressed to a satisfactory resolution. Consideration will also be given to the inclusion of a storage area in the plans for the next phase of the Economics Library at St.Cross.
The long-term accommodation strategy sets out in detail the planning principles governing this necessary reconfiguration and expansion of the OULS library estate, as well as a number of practical proposals aimed at overcoming many of the major historic physical constraints on the library system. These proposals will involve a major programme of redevelopment and of new building spanning at least 5 years, at the end of which the integrated library system should be much better positioned to deliver on the radical service enhancements envisaged. [Note: The bulk of the funding required to implement this strategy will be provided by the Libraries Capital Campaign, which was approved by the University in November 2001. Designed to raise £40M, and with an additional contribution of £10M from the University, the Campaign was successfully launched during 2002 (the quatercentenary year of the opening of the Bodleian Library in 1602). Further details of the approved portfolio for the Libraries Capital Campaign can be found online at http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/librarian. External funds are also providing the bulk of the resources required to build Phase II of the Economics Library.]
The technical infrastructure
While the implementation of the long-term accommodation strategy will form the necessary basis for the major enhancement of the physical infrastructure of the library system (which itself is essential to maximise the service benefits arising from the integrated managerial and operational changes already underway), the systematic development of the libraries' technical infrastructure forms the final element in the achievement of a radically transformed library service.
While Oxford's central libraries have already accomplished a great deal in the application of IT to library processes and services, the OULS has recognised the need to take a strategic planning approach in this key area of library development. To this end, an e-strategy has been formulated as a vital component of the vision for the future. The strategy, a copy of which is appended to this document, envisages the innovative exploitation of new and existing technologies to provide easy, seamlessly organised and user-friendly access to the burgeoning range of electronic information which is increasingly being made available both within and beyond the Oxford library domain. With electronic information of every conceivable kind already forming a major component of the OULS collections and services, the e-strategy has become an integral part of the core activities of the OULS, and its implementation will enable large quantities of digital materials to become fully integrated, in both managerial and service terms, with the library service's more traditional world-class collections of printed and manuscript materials.
The forward plan for the OULS is therefore based on the working concept of the 'hybrid library', which is being defined as "a managed combination of physical and virtual collections and information services", and which is seen as the most appropriate model for a major academic library system in which very large-scale holdings of physical materials will continue to grow and be exploited by the use of IT-based systems in the context of a rapidly increasing use of electronic information.
In specific developmental terms, the e-strategy includes the following components, many of which are already in place, underway, or planned:
* the replacement, within the planning period, of the library service's principal IT platform (the Geac system);
* the development of an integrated computing environment for the OULS, and the implementation of an OULS management information strategy (consistent with other University-wide systems, including OSIRIS and ISIDORE);
* the expanded provision of electronic datasets and e-journals and of support for their use;
* technical support for developments in the online union catalogue (OLIS), in electronic document delivery, and in the use of machine-readable records for access to manuscript and archival holdings;
* the further development of the Oxford Digital Library (comprising locally-created digital content);
* the building of a standards-based hybrid library user interface (replacing OxLip), capable of enabling easier search-and-retrieval access to all the electronic information and resources available within the library system and beyond;
* the development of robust digital archiving facilities (principally through collaboration with the OUCS and the use of the University's Hierarchical File Store).
Taken together, all of these components will transform the depth, range and quality of the library system's service array, and will provide the University, and the wider world of scholarship, with a hybrid library and information infrastructure second to none in the UK, and on a par with those of Oxford's international peers.
The vision is exciting, innovative and ambitious. But with the necessary energy, commitment and investment, both of staff effort and of resources, it is achievable. Above all, it represents a future which the University itself simply has to reach if it is to meet the rising expectations and information needs of its scholars and students. In that sense, this vision has also to be seen as a key component of the University's own ambition to maintain and enhance its world-class status in teaching and research.
The five-year plan, 2003-2008
The table that follows is a summary breakdown of the key infrastructural changes which are required in order to achieve the Vision for 2008, and it specifies the particular planning targets envisaged for the five-year period. The overall plan is subdivided into the four broad infrastructure areas identified in the Vision, as outlined above.
Strategic Plan, 2003- 2008
[Note: Cost indicators are shown in terms of the following code: 0 = cost neutral 1 = increased costs 2 = significant increased costs -1 = cost saving possibilities -2 = significant cost saving possibilities Where costs are likely to be met from non-University sources, these indicators are shown in bold]
Oxford University Library Services (OULS): long-term accommodation strategy
During 1999, the Director of University Library Services presented a paper to the Libraries Committee of the University (the predecessor of the Curators of the University Libraries) entitled Library buildings and accommodation: an overview of space issues in the Libraries Committee sector. The paper focused attention on the growing library accommodation crisis, which had arisen over many years in virtually all of the Libraries Committee's libraries due to the lack of a long-term strategy and the absence of a co-ordinated planning approach. The paper drew a number of important conclusions about the accommodation problems facing the libraries sector. In particular, it concluded that there was a widespread need for expansion space for open-shelf collections, a longstanding requirement for a higher proportion of library materials to be made accessible on open shelves in central Oxford, and an urgent necessity to accelerate the provision of off-site storage space for the long-term retention of lower use library stock. These conclusions were endorsed by the Libraries Committee, and the Director was invited to draft a long-term accommodation strategy, based on a set of approved planning principles which would determine the approach for addressing these urgent problems in a practical and achievable way over the longer term.
The present paper is an updated and revised version of that draft strategy, which was first presented to, and approved by, the Libraries Committee early in 2000 [LIB (00) 19]. The present revision of the strategy document takes account of subsequent developments in this key area of library planning. For example, it incorporates the various approvals given by University committees to OULS buildings-related proposals during 2000-01 and subsequently, including the plans for the use of the Kemp Hall Bindery (now occupied by the Systems and Electronic Resources Service of the OULS) and the Blackwell's Science Building (at Osney Mead), and for the various projects in the Libraries Capital Campaign, promoted by the Libraries Development Board and approved by the University's Planning and Resource Allocation Committee in November 2001 (with a £10 million contribution from the University). An OULS submission to the Radcliffe Infirmary (RI) Vision Group, proposing the development of a consolidated Humanities Lending Library on the RI site, was separately submitted in December 2000, and further developments are still awaited. The funding of Phase II of the St Cross building extension, approved under the SRIF initiative, is also an integral part of the OULS accommodation strategy, since the plans include a major extension of the Economics Library. By 2004-05, this important development should provide the Social Studies Libraries with the additional space to rationalise their on-site support for the Social Sciences Division. Attention will also be given, during 2003, to developing an appropriate scheme for managing tourist visitors within the Old Bodleian Library complex, to replace the earlier plans for a more ambitious scheme, withdrawn in November 2001. Finally, the planned move of the International Development Centre (Queen Elizabeth House) from its present accommodation to the Geography Building during 2004 will provide an opportunity to bring into closer relationship the two OULS libraries which serve the IDC (the IDC Library itself and the Refugee Studies Centre Library).
2. Key issues influencing the OULS accommodation strategy
The creation of the integrated University Library Services has enabled the University, for the very first time, to take a holistic overview of the accommodation issues faced by one of the institution's key academic services, and to address those issues in a coherent way. The key issues are as follows:
a. The Director of University Library Services is charged with developing and implementing a libraries-wide long-term retention and storage policy. Requested by the Working Party on University Sites (the Lucas Report) in 1997, the elaboration of such a policy has been actively addressed within the context of an OULS Collection Management Framework, which was put out for general consultation in 2002, and which will be implemented, as resources permit, from 2003.
b. A long-term storage plan for library materials is a critical requirement for an institution with legal deposit status and responsibilities. The library system's major storage repository at Nuneham Courtenay is now completely full, and plans for an accelerated succession of further storage modules (capable of storing the continuously expanding intake of materials, at an estimated capital cost of £600,000 per module) are now being pursued. The plans are having to take account of the fact that the local authority appears less willing than previously to give permission for building additional storage modules at Nuneham. (See also Fundamental principles b. and f. below.) The University's Planning and Resource Allocation Committee has recently earmarked £1.87 million to build three storage modules at one time, and it may be asked to allow these funds to be used to introduce a new repository function at Osney Mead.
c. There is an urgent requirement to release space on the central Bodleian site for the introduction of expanded and enhanced reader services to support academic research. These developments are strongly supported by the relevant Faculties and departments, and represent major desiderata for the upgrading of library facilities in the New Bodleian Library to appropriately modern and cost-effective standards of service. The redevelopment of the New Bodleian Library (the NEWBOLD project) is now at an advanced stage of planning, and a design brief is being finalised for issuing to an architect as soon as possible during 2003.
d. There is a longstanding recognition of the need for the development and expansion of the various facilities supporting library materials preservation in the integrated libraries sector and beyond. A range of improvements, including the redevelopment of part of the Blackwell's Science Building at Osney Mead as a major new Preservation and Conservation facility, is being planned in this area (under the Libraries Capital Campaign), in line with the former Libraries Board's Preservation Report (1996), and in keeping with the University's stewardship responsibilities for library collections of international importance.
e. It is a key element in the integrated approach of the OULS to merge, both managerially and physically, the various systems support and development units within the OULS. Until 2001, this support was split between the Libraries Automation Service - whose premises in St Giles were required to provide expansion space for Classics - and the Bodleian Systems Section, which was inadequately housed in the Radcliffe Science Library and elsewhere. In August 2001 these units were managerially merged, by the creation of the OULS Systems and Electronic Resources Service (SERS); but the provision of an appropriate physical location for the new service has always been a major desideratum, since without it the real benefits of the integrated approach (including the development of the Oxford Digital Library and the roll-out of the e-strategy) would continue to be seriously hampered. Pending the redevelopment of the Blackwell's Science building at Osney Mead (under the Libraries Capital Campaign), a temporary solution has been adopted by the use, from 2002, of the former Kemp Hall Bindery (now the SERS Building).
f. The Director of University Library Services is specifically charged with improving the facilities for the training and development of the library staff, within and beyond the integrated sector. While many improvements have been made in this area in the last few years, the introduction of appropriate training facilities cannot be made until the Blackwell's Science Building is taken into full service. In the meantime, the work of the OULS Staff Development and Training Service remains greatly inhibited by the present highly unsatisfactory arrangements, with the staff temporarily housed in rented accommodation, and with development and training activities taking place in a disparate range of facilities spread across Oxford.
g. Equal opportunities legislation provides the impetus for more appropriate long-term provision to be made for the needs of the Oxford Resources for the Blind. The ORB is a service managed by the Bodleian Library on behalf of the University as a whole. It is temporarily located at Ewert House, but is likely to move, under the Capital Campaign, to Osney Mead.
3. Fundamental principles
The OULS long-term accommodation strategy is also based on a number of fundamental principles:
a. The decision, taken in Victorian times and confirmed in 1931, to retain the Bodleian Library in its historic buildings - with all the consequences of space pressures, fragmented development, service inefficiencies and increased operating costs - is effectively irreversible. [Note: In the course of its consideration, during 2001, of the plans for the Libraries Capital Campaign, the University's Planning and Resource Allocation Committee (PRAC) revisited this key issue. Since the construction of a purpose-built unitary 'University Library' incorporating all of the OULS libraries (including the Bodleian) was estimated to cost more than £250 million to build, PRAC agreed that such an option was non-viable.] The effect of this major policy decision - felt mainly, but not uniquely, by the Bodleian - is that, given the growth in library materials, staff numbers and service requirements since the 1930s, the University Library Services libraries are all subject to increasing space pressures which cannot be adequately addressed by solutions based on the availability of adequate alternative accommodation in central Oxford.
b. There needs to be a more aggressive off-campus repository approach for the integrated libraries sector as a whole for materials in lesser demand and lower current use. The Nuneham Courtenay repository presently serves the library storage needs of the Bodleian, the Sackler and the Taylorian; but an acceleration in the provision of off-campus storage facilities is now absolutely essential to provide for the increased rate at which legal deposit materials are being published in the UK. This would also enable the OULS to develop a sector-wide policy for the storage of library retention materials, and would contribute to resolving, much more systematically than hitherto, many of the otherwise intractable accommodation problems of the libraries in the integrated sector. As mentioned in 2(c) above, plans are now in hand to make inroads into this increasingly urgent problem.
c. In addition to this critical shortage of closed access storage space in the library system generally, there is also an acute need for expansion space for open shelf materials, as well as for space to make a higher proportion of current stock more accessible in open shelf locations, as a means of greatly improving both reader convenience and library efficiency. While this 'open shelf ' issue cannot realistically be solved by a single new building, it must nevertheless be systematically built into the design criteria for all future library buildings in central Oxford. (It is already being built into the plans, within the Libraries Capital Campaign, for the redevelopment of the New Bodleian Library; but the principle needs to be borne in mind in all future library building projects.)
d. The Bodleian Library should be enabled to concentrate uniquely, in its major central buildings (the Old and New Bodleian Libraries), on provision for research support, with enhanced undergraduate provision being made elsewhere in the system. The central Bodleian buildings are currently 'falling between two stools'; and while research provision would also be made elsewhere, an overt emphasis on provision for research would enable the central Bodleian buildings to achieve much more satisfactory levels of service than at present, when they are trying - against the odds - to be all things to all people. This principle will need to be borne in mind in any library-related use of the Radcliffe Infirmary site.
e. Priority needs to be given to developing services for readers (including the disabled) on the central site(s), and to providing suitable off-site accommodation for certain library support operations. This principle is particularly significant for the Bodleian Library, where the necessary development of library support activities - acquisitions, processing, cataloguing, conservation, imaging facilities, training, and systems support - is competing on a major scale with the need to devote more space to reader services. (While residual support facilities will still need to be accommodated on the central site, the planned redevelopment of the Blackwell's Science Building as an offsite library support facility (supported by the Libraries Capital Campaign) will enable this principle to be followed through, notwithstanding some inevitable 'trade-offs' in moving so many key library operations away from the central sites.)
f. As an institution of legal deposit, Oxford will continue to acquire and retain (and will have to house) hundreds of thousands of newly-published printed items every year. All the evidence points to the fact that, even taking into account the growth of digital media, and after maximum recourse has been had to the pursuit of co-operative acquisition and retention policies with other UK copyright libraries, the intake of physical materials under legal deposit will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Not only will these continuously expanding collections of physical materials need to be retained, but electronic access to them will also need to be seamlessly integrated with the growing range of digital library resources and services, as a key component of the forward-looking e-strategy, and within the 'hybrid library' vision for the future of library services in Oxford. The link with (b) above is clear, and the availability of building land at Osney Mead is likely to come more and more into play as time passes and as detailed plans for additional storage space are developed.
The six principles summarised above will - as long as they are built into all future strategic decisions about library accommodation needs and as their implications are carefully managed over time - lead to the following major benefits for the integrated libraries in their service to users:
a. The desirable objective of having the right book (or information) in the right place at the right time can be more systematically addressed than hitherto. A clearer and more rational articulation of the core purposes of all the OULS libraries in central Oxford, supported by more carefully targeted acquisitions policies and by more robust plans for storing lower use materials off the central site, will lead to the more effective and more appropriately targeted provision of library support for both teaching and research. This approach will be complemented, within the developing e-strategy, by the pervasive provision of electronic access to library resources and services, supported by appropriate systems capabilities.
b. A generally more cost-effective and efficient use of library space overall will be achieved.
c. There will be improved access to and availability of core library materials in central Oxford.
d. A targeted approach to more appropriate library opening hours in response to expressed user needs will be easier to implement.
e. Greatly enhanced provision for reader services in key locations will be facilitated.
f. Better provision for disabled access to key facilities can be made.
g. Proper provision for library staff space and training needs in appropriate locations can be achieved.
h. There will be more scope for the provision of space for interpretative and exhibition functions in the Old Bodleian (including the more effective management of tourist visitors).
i. The reduction in the number of separate library sites in central Oxford will lead to cost savings and reader-related benefits.
j. A rationalisation of library administrative functions will bring some improvements in overall effectiveness.
k. Some savings will be achieved as a result of reduced movement of large quantities of library stock within and between buildings. Having the stock in more adequate and appropriate locations will avoid the waste of resources caused by frequent book moves and fragmentation of stock due to the squeezing of books into inadequate spaces.
5. Practical steps: towards the implementation of an integrated library accommodation strategy
By enabling the OULS collections, operations and services to be accommodated and managed more effectively, these benefits could be achieved by the following practical steps, combined with the implementation of the policies and plans for long-term retention and storage already mentioned. All of these steps will be taken within the next five years, and they form a basic building block in the efforts being made to transform the library system's overall performance and service delivery capabilities.
a. The OULS now has formal University approval for the creation of a major new off-campus facility, providing accommodation for acquisitions, cataloguing, preservation, systems, and other appropriate library support activities. The purchase by the University, for library purposes, of two contiguous buildings at Osney Mead (the Kemp Hall Bindery and the Blackwell's Science building) - though not ideally placed in relation to the repository accommodation at Nuneham Courtenay - now makes a new facility along these lines a realistic prospect, and plans are actively being prepared to bring this development to fruition. This off-site accommodation will enable much material to be processed and stored without it having first to be delivered into central Oxford (the legal deposit materials would be delivered direct to it from London), and it will release sufficient space in the central library buildings to permit the other pressing needs, described above, to be met there. (In the event of the refusal of planning permission for further storage modules at Nuneham Courtenay, the fallback position will be to plan for the creation of a new repository at Osney Mead, on land already purchased for library purposes.)
b. Consistent with the refocusing of the Old and New Bodleian buildings on research provision, urgent plans are also being made to upgrade the environmental conditions in the New Bodleian - especially in the Bookstack, where the highest value research materials are housed. Serious concerns have been expressed about those conditions by the inspectors of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, and the University has earmarked £10M to help address these concerns at the earliest possible date. Failure to do this would ultimately have threatened the Bodleian's status, within the OULS, as an accredited national repository.
c. Consistent with the need to rationalise library buildings and services wherever physically possible, consideration is being given to the following library developments which are in line with the need to address undergraduate and research support provision in a more systematic fashion:
i. The possibility of rehousing the History Faculty Library in a more appropriate location in central Oxford. Such a move, if agreed as feasible, could release space in the Old Indian Institute building, and enable the rationalisation of library services in History.
ii. The creation of a new Humanities Lending Library on the Radcliffe Infirmary site. This proposal, present in the Lucas Report (1997), and strongly supported by the Humanities Division, would be entirely consistent with the strategy outlined in this paper. The more Humanities Faculty libraries which could be included within such a facility, the greater the synergy, service enhancement and cost-effectiveness which could be achieved. Ongoing discussions with the Humanities Division are helping to build a consensual view about the appropriate subject components (and size) of such a library facility, within or close to a new Humanities Centre.
iii. The relocation of the Official Papers collections from the seriously inadequate basement of the Radcliffe Camera to a more appropriate part of the library system.
d. As outlined in the introduction, it is an integral part of the objectives of the OULS to support the priority aim of the Social Sciences Division to complete the phased expansion of the St Cross building, which includes plans for the extension of the present Economics Library, to rehouse the Politics, International Relations and Sociology Library, the Social Policy and Social Work Library, and part of the Bodleian's PPE Reading Room collections. This development is itself an important element in the further integration and consolidation of OULS support for both teaching and research in the Social Sciences.
e. Plans are in hand for the further development of the Clarendon Building as the operational centre of the OULS. The Clarendon Building, appropriately refurbished, has a strategically significant part to play in delivering some of the benefits envisaged in the integration proposals endorsed by the University during 2000.
f. The Bodleian Library will continue to plan during 2003 for the introduction of a Visitor Management Programme. With some modest physical alterations to parts of the ground floor of the Old Bodleian building, the scheme will reduce reader inconvenience, improve security, enhance visitor experience, relocate the Bodleian Shop, and perhaps generate a modest income stream for reinvestment in core services.
g. The University has formally approved, and the University Development Office is actively supporting, a Libraries Capital Campaign designed to raise £40M over five years to underpin many of the capital developments described in this paper. Other library capital projects (all of which are consistent with the strategic planning principles rehearsed here) will also depend critically on the success of the Campaign. These additional proposals include: enhanced library IT developments to enable the implementation of a comprehensive e-strategy; a new medical library and information facility on the South Headington site; an extension to the Taylor Institution Library; and physical upgrades to the Bodleian Law Library and the Upper Radcliffe Camera.
It is worth bearing in mind, in connection with all of these schemes, that the libraries sector has an excellent track record in raising funds from external sources. Finally, given the importance of the issues raised in this paper in the context of the University's sites strategy and the libraries' significant role in support of the academic excellence of the institution, the strategy and plans presented here can be seen as crucial to the development of the University as a whole and to the maintenance of its status, reputation, and performance.
An integrated e-strategy for the Oxford University Library Services (OULS): the hybrid library approach to information access, handling, creation, dissemination and storage
1. The background: the environmental and local factors
The following are the key factors which underpin and shape the overarching vision, the strategic objectives and the service development plans for the libraries now constituting the integrated OULS:
* The University of Oxford is, and aspires to remain, a world-class university, whose support facilities for teaching, learning and research are crucial to the institution's ability to maintain and develop its excellence.
* Developments in information technology over the past decade, and in particular the advent of the Internet and its associated technologies, are rapidly becoming embedded in all the activities of the University, transforming the majority of its processes, and opening up the possibilities for the greatly enhanced performance of its key tasks.
* With information - in all its variety of forms - at the core of the University's business, it is crucial to the institution's continuing success that it should harness the transforming power of technology to maintain its competitive advantage at the leading edge of world scholarship.
* With its vast scholarly library collections, and in particular those of the Bodleian Library (which has been a library of deposit for almost 400 years), the University has been a resource for the support of national and international scholarship for centuries in the pre-digital world (to its own great and continuing benefit), and has a historic mission to maintain and develop that support in an electronically-networked world.
* The libraries forming the OULS - many of which have exploited information technology for more than a decade as a means of enhancing their routine support for the developing information needs of the University in all its parts - are now established within a managerial structure which is capable of taking them on to a new level of support for the institution's teaching, learning and research activities in an increasingly networked environment.
* The OULS requires the phased and systematic implementation of a strategic development plan, rooted in the use of leading-edge information technology, in order to be able more effectively to exploit Oxford's immense physical holdings of primary research and teaching materials and to support the scholars and students of the University as their own work is transformed by developments in technology.
2. The overarching vision: towards 'the hybrid library'
In the early 21st century, major research libraries throughout the world are sharing in the elaboration of the concept of the hybrid library. The university library of the future will be a hybrid combination of physical and virtual collections, information resources and services, in which the innovative possibilities of information technology are systematically harnessed both to manage and to deliver integrated access to both physical and electronic materials and services. This 'hybrid library' concept is especially appropriate as an overarching vision for a large holdings library system like Oxford's, as it seeks to refashion its support for teaching and research ever more effectively in the modern networked world.
In practical terms, such a vision means that, for the Oxford University Library Services, the application of information technology must pervade every aspect not only of what the library system does, but also how it does it. This does not mean that electronic access to Oxford's, or to the world's, information resources will (or must) wholly replace a user's physical access to library buildings, holdings or services. (The printed book is very far from dead in any case, as the increased numbers of physical items being published year by year continues to demonstrate; and, in any case, the cost of digitising more than just a fraction of the holdings of a research library system like Oxford's could not be met, even if it were thought desirable. The strategy of the OULS also has to take account of the differing needs of its many user constituencies for continuing access to physical materials.) The 'hybrid library' approach does, however, envisage, as a key strategic objective, the provision of comprehensive desk-top access for all users to information about the library system's holdings, together with incrementally increasing networked access to an expanding range of materials in electronic form (both digitised and 'born digital', and locally or remotely held or owned).
3. Progress to date
The OULS is making considerable progress with such developments and, within its current e-strategy, already has in place the following key elements of a hybrid library, at various stages of implementation:
* A libraries-wide automated 'housekeeping' system, for the efficient support, management, and delivery of basic library processing tasks (accessions and cataloguing of printed materials (books, serials and pamphlets), user databases, and lending). The central Geac system replaced an earlier DOBIS/LIBIS system in 1995, and the vast majority of Oxford's libraries (including many outside the OULS) have implemented it to support these tasks. (The system will, however, need replacing within the next few years.)
* A University-wide online union catalogue of printed holdings. The Oxford Libraries Information System (OLIS) is already well-established on the Geac platform, with a large number of the University's libraries (including many college libraries) cataloguing online into it, and with an ambitious programme of retrospective catalogue conversions to machine-readable form already successfully implemented. (The completion of the retrospective conversion of all manual records in the OULS libraries, and the many other desirable enhancements to the OLIS system, still represent major tasks for which considerable resources will be required.)
* Campus-wide provision of access to remotely-held (commercial and non-commercial) library and information datasets and other electronic information resources (including electronic journals). A University-wide Electronic Resources Committee is in place, and has responsibility for managing the purchase and licensing of external electronic information resources, for campus-wide availability on a more centralised and cost-effective basis. The Curators of the University Libraries are routinely increasing the OULS annual acquisitions budget for electronic materials, and this trend is expected to continue.
* Pervasive library connectivity to the University network, to JANET, and to the Internet. All of the OULS libraries are well-connected to the campus network, and are making quite sophisticated use of the institutional intranet and of the Internet itself, with resulting service benefits being delivered to all parts of the University, as well as to 'remote' library users more generally.
* Project-based electronic library and information service development initiatives. While the OULS itself is not funded to undertake research and development activities, a number of its libraries have been successful in obtaining external funding (from HEFCE/JISC library and information initiatives such as e-Lib and the Non-formula funding initiative, and from private foundations and benefactors) for the innovative testing and application of IT in a library service context. (These include work on electronic journals, interfaces, digitisation of original materials, electronic document delivery systems, and retrospective conversion programmes.)
4. Necessary steps: integration, consolidation, and the missing elements
Since 1997 three steps in particular have been taken to move the libraries on to the next level in the development of the hybrid library approach and the implementation of a comprehensive e-strategy for the OULS.
a. The integration of the governance and management of the University's centrally-funded libraries. Achieved in February 2000, this was an essential pre-requisite for the strategic and more cost-effective use of the available resources (human, operational, physical and technical) within the OULS. In this context, a new managerial and operational structure for library IT systems support and development has recently been put into place, as a basis for a properly planned and managed approach to the further development of digital library services in Oxford.
b. The consolidation of the existing elements of the hybrid library approach. Subject to available finances (including external funding), every effort is being made to ensure that across-the-board investments are made in all of the building blocks already in place. In particular, the various modules of the Geac system have been more widely implemented, the OLIS system has been greatly expanded, the Electronic Resources Committee has been given a much-enhanced budget with the number of datasets and electronic journals being significantly expanded, and connectivity to, and use of, the Internet has been more widely developed. The aim of all this work is to ensure that these existing elements of library activity are firmly established as integral parts of the core services of the OULS.
c. The identification of the missing elements in the e-strategy and the planning of their development to further the implementation of the hybrid library vision. Four key elements in particular have been identified as the additional building blocks still required to move the library system towards the full implementation of the e-strategy most appropriate for a world-class library system. Various developmental efforts have been, and continue to be, made to progress these important issues, as follows:
* The conversion to machine-readable form of the library system's manual catalogues and of its descriptions of manuscript and archival materials. A good start has been made (principally within the Bodleian Library) on the use of the international standard EAD format for this work. The aim, ultimately, must be to develop such machine-readable cataloguing of manuscript finding-aids as the default process for current records also, in order to enable users to access information about all such materials electronically (as is now routinely the case for most printed materials).
* The systematic creation of local digital content as a core library service. The digitisation of key locally-held materials has been undertaken within Oxford's libraries for many years (as elsewhere in the University). But until quite recently, such activities were unco-ordinated, and they were opportunistic rather than strategically planned. The Mellon-funded scoping study of 1998-9 pointed the way towards a strategic development plan for the creation of appropriate digital content drawn from Oxford's outstanding collections of library materials. The establishment, in 2000, of an Oxford Digital Library (ODL), with the support of a major grant from the Mellon Foundation, represented the first major step towards the embedding of digital content creation within the library system's core services. In particular, the ODL will achieve three key strategic objectives within the overall development of digital library services in Oxford: the migration of the Bodleian Photographic Studio service to a self-funding, on-demand, digitisation service; a major new line of library support for the teaching and research activities of the University; and a significant production stream of digitised material, based on Oxford holdings, for subsequent re-use in a variety of developmental contexts of local and general benefit (such as the OULS contribution to the innovative Cultural Materials Service of the Research Libraries Group).
* The establishment of an OULS-based electronic document delivery service. Such a service is a key desideratum for a major research library system. Oxford's current inter-library lending system, based largely on low-tech and inefficient manual procedures, is seriously inadequate by today's standards, is ineffectively and unevenly distributed across the OULS libraries, and urgently requires bringing into the machine age. Planning efforts, based around the possible use of low-cost software developed by the Research Libraries Group, are currently underway, with desk-top delivery as the ultimate goal.
* The establishment of robust digital archiving mechanisms for the long-term preservation of the library system's digital assets. As a medium-term development objective, and as a matter of both good housekeeping and of digital library service resilience, OULS is working towards the most appropriate means of permanently archiving the library system's growing range of digital assets. Together with the OUCS, it has been involved, with Oxford as a lead site, in the JISC-funded digital preservation project CEDARS, and, as a recipient of electronic material under the DCMS-sponsored voluntary legal deposit scheme for non-printed materials, is developing with the other UK copyright libraries arrangements for a secure electronic network for persistent access to all such information resources. The OULS and the OUCS are also jointly involved in the JISC/CURL-funded SHERPA Project, which aims to develop procedures for creating a digital archive of scholarly e-prints, for long-term access and preservation. As an interim measure, the library system's digital assets are being stored in the University's Hierarchical File Server. In the longer term, once the true costs of permanent archiving and access to such materials are better understood, OULS will expect to be directly involved in the elaboration of a University-wide strategy in this important arena. The provision of well-established digital archiving facilities will become crucial once the UK introduces legislation for the compulsory legal deposit of electronic publications.
The implementation of this e-strategy as a core part of the library system's ongoing development will enable the vast resources and collections of the OULS to be made accessible to students and researchers wherever they are, in a seamless and user-oriented fashion. It is an integral part of the forward plans for the library system as a whole, and will be aggressively developed as resources permit.