Rule number 1 of blogging: don’t use weird abbreviations and don’t make headlines too enigmatic: well, I have broken that rule, but let’s spell out Over Night Loans quickly.
Like many other Faculty libraries, the Pendlebury Library uses ONLs in order to make sure that core texts are available at most times during the day (at the Pendlebury, in theory between 10:01 and 15:44: more information at http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/pendlebury/guide/borrowing/#overnight). Now, a lot of the librarians you meet have not only been students themselves, but are also usually people
with common sense. However, we are not kidding ourselves that this arrangement is as good as having, say, 10 copies of a core text for Module A, 10 copies for a core text for Module B …
Of course, most people will stress that we cannot buy multiple copies of a book due to lack of money, but that’s not really quite true. We could buy multiple copies of, say, a number of core texts for undergraduate courses – however, there are three problems with that for any library:
- Finite amount of money would mean that we could buy these multiple copies of academic books – but then not much (or anything) else. This would mean, for example, not considering any suggestions for purchase made by music students and staff. Surely that would be quite a restrictive policy to take.
- Should a library offer as many books on as wide a variety of topics as possible, or give access to a couple of books but provide access to these by having multiple copies on the shelves? I would hope most students and staff would say ‘more different books please’, and that this is better than several books with multiple copies.
- The final most important reason, however, is in my opinion that every library lacks enough space. Even with repeated vigorous weeding of stock, we are still in the lucky position of having more new books being acquired than what we have weeded, but we need to move more (mainly older and obscurer) materials to closed access. Some of the items weeded would definitely be better placed in a much bigger library, such as the University Library, as opposed to a small Faculty library which aims to provide resources for teaching more than research.
Okay, you might be convinced by this, but you might wonder why we don’t buy more ebooks then? There wouldn’t be a need for making a physical book an ONL if we had an ebook. I think I need to have a strong cup of tea, and postpone this to another blog post. Until then: please appreciate the need for ONLs more; oh, and have a cup of tea.