Thoughts on Access - Part II - Christ's Church Library
Again, I come back to this issue of access. Yet, I still have no definite answers on the subject. When asked, the librarian said the purpose of having the collection available in-print only is to draw people in, so that they are more likely to come visit the library. Which makes sense, obviously librarians want people to continue coming by. However, visitors like myself, may take a quick tour, but they still won't really be able to research or utilize the library unless they attend the university. This excludes everyone geographically far from Oxford, people from lower socio-economic backgrounds with less than ideal educational systems, and many more. While I'm sure the University of Oxford has made strides to bring in more diverse students, it seems a bit sad that so few people will ever get to read and utilize the many, many resources that only their collection have to offer.
Speaking of, one of the many gems of Christ Chruch's old library building is Queen Elizabeth the first's bible! Though it can't fully be removed from it's box for the sake of preservation, it was still an incredibly rare and precious gem that I'm so glad I got to see for myself (and was even able to take pictures of!).
Aside from Queen E's bible, we saw a number of other rare and precious gems at Christ Church (some of which I'll include pictures of). However, they also work hard to have new resources available at the request of their students. Students from the general college, if a book they need isn't already in the collection, can request it and (for the most part) within 24-hours it will be in their hand. In addition to typical library suppliers, they've also taken to using Amazon Prime for certain items for the sake of efficiency.
The blend of the old and the new that we saw at Christ Church was a fantastic representation of a library doing its best in areas of preservation, while also taking steps towards the digital world. Overall, Christ Church is a fantastic library, and I had a blast during the tour. Plus, we got to sit in Lewis Caroll's old office, so why could possibly be bad about a day like that?