Like many other libraries in Oxford, Exeter College Library and the Special Collections Library and Archive in Cohen Quad have both been closed since 23 March, and you may be wondering how Exeter’s students are now getting the library materials they need for their studies.
The obvious answer is that they are now asked to find material online, and since the virus lockdown started the Bodleian Library (who supply all of the university and college electronic resources centrally) have massively increased the number of e-books and journals available to all members of the university. They have successfully negotiated with e-publishers to relax their licensing restrictions during the crisis and this means our students have a lot more e-resources open to them for the next few months. The College Library is now very busy advising students what is available online and how they can access it. We are also updating tutors’ reading lists with links to e-books and journals.
In addition, Exeter College Library contributes to a joint college libraries’ fund to buy additional e-books which are not available via the Bodleian. We have recently doubled our contribution to this fund to cope with increased online demands.
But how do students get their hands on material which is not available electronically? Well, we are now posting books from Exeter’s Library to students and, if the book needed is not in Exeter’s Library, it can be purchased from a bookseller and sent directly to the student at home. We are also scanning excerpts from books, and journal articles and emailing them out to readers; this is especially useful for students who are overseas.
The library staff are largely working from home, with weekly forays in to College to post and scan. Meanwhile, the libraries lie locked and silent, waiting like all of us for a more normal life to resume.