Saturday the 8th of February is National Libraries Day – the culmination of a week of celebrations in public, school, university and workplace libraries across the UK.
To mark the week, Oxford libraries will be sharing photos and providing explanations of some of the ‘behind the scenes’ work undertaken by their staff that readers do not normally get to see. Nuffield College Library will be participating, with a new post about a different aspect of our work every day this week. Read on for the first instalment in the series…
You will no doubt have seen the New Books and New Books by College Members displays on the first floor landing. This is a place for us to showcase our recent acquisitions, and to highlight and celebrate any new publications which members of Nuffield College have written or contributed to. But perhaps less clear for readers is exactly how the library decides which books to buy.
A great deal of the material purchased by the library is first requested by College Members (both students and academics) via the book request form on the College intranet.
In addition to this, the library receives a large number of publishers’ catalogues, which staff regularly scour for books which fit with the library’s acquisitions policy. The librarian also consults book reviews in academic and popular journals to help make these selections. Thus, a proportion of the new books each week are selected by staff at the library.
Acting as something of a hybrid of these first two methods, the library also uses an approvals system, in which a list of books which have been identified as potential purchases by library staff is circulated around College Fellows, who are then invited to recommend titles from the list which they believe the library should keep.
Finally, the library also maintains a Taught Course Collection, which is located in the Small Reading Room on the first floor. Books for this collection are purchased in accordance with the reading lists of the taught graduate courses of the main subject areas covered by the College.
Thus, the library uses a number of different methods to ensure that its shelves are kept well-stocked so that readers have access to the books they require for their research. Of course, deciding which books to buy is just the first step in that process however – as later posts in this series will seek to explain, much more work has to be done before the books are ready to go out on display.