Archive for October, 2012

On Shelfmarks, and why they are important


As our new intake of students are finding out, shelf-marking at OIL is not always straightforward. This is an historical problem, and not one confined just to our library – for an overview of the situation at the Bodleian, I recommend the excellent Bodleian press-marks in relation to classification by G.W. Wheeler, (shelf mark – 2960 d. Oxf. 1.13) written in 1916 but still a valuable source for anyone wishing to understand why the systems used by the Library are so complicated.

But I digress. At OIL the problem arises mostly from the fact that our books have arrived here from several different sources and are subsequently classified in several different ways. This is reflected in the labelling systems we use, for example the collection upstairs contains black labels made of tape with white numbers, which follow a loose version of the Library of Congress Classification, and also the white-labelled books which follow the “Oxford” version of the Library of Congress Classification, developed for use by the Bodleian and other libraries. (There are many books on this subject on SOLO; but believe me, it’s not really that important that readers know how it works in any detail).

In the Library there are also (deep breath) books from the former Oriental Reading Room, reference books from sections including those downstairs, and in the basement there are several more schemes in use including the Hebrew section, numerical classification for the Syriac and other small collections, as well as the Indian Institute books which use their own scheme (which was designed to be used in the building which just finished being the History Faculty Library).

Most of the abovementioned are fairly easy for us to tell apart, and therefore when someone asks us about something from the basement we can usually say where it will be with some authority.

Where the confusion arises is with the ground floor collections, which mirror each other fairly broadly, especially in large sections like BP and PJ. It is VERY IMPORTANT when asking us about these that readers write down the whole shelf mark!! I know it’s a pain, and they’re long, and sometimes they make no sense, but if we’re given a shelf mark that’s written “PJ 6416… [I lost interest here]” we can’t give you accurate information about where the book is. We WANT to help, but we need more than just the first two elements of the shelf mark if we are going to do so.

There is also an ongoing programme of reclassification taking place, which means that the books with the black labels are gradually being relabelled and added to the new LC section. At the moment the BPs are being done, and all new books are also being added to LC.

In short, do feel free to ask us if you can’t find something, but PLEASE try to give us as much information as possible!

Thank you.


September Highlights and Announcements


Before I get to the highlights for September, a big announcement (well, big for us!):

From next week, the start of Term proper, readers will be permitted to borrow 8 books at a time from OIL instead of the former upper limit of 6. The usual two-week borrowing period still applies during Term.

So, September? Always a quiet one for us, I’m afraid. The Library’s annual leave calendar runs October-September, so at some point in June or July everyone panics and books most of the last month off to use up their leave. Subsequently OIL has been without at least one member of staff for most of the month, but given that we rarely have huge numbers of readers during the month before Term starts this has not proven to be an insurmountable problem.

We have not been idle! The work on the Window on Korea room downstairs continues, and the ongoing reclassification of the older BP sequence has been rattling on apace, currently somewhere in the Islamic Law section and therefore keep an eye on KBP in the new sequence, which is shuffling around in various directions as books are added and moved.

We have also been preparing for Inductions; the Library Open Day is this Friday, 5th October, and will feature sessions on how to use SOLO, various subject-related points of contact and also a brief (and easy) session from your humble blogger on the Library’s Social Media presence. Look out for the fliers/posters during the week!

Looking ahead, we have the mammoth task that is processing all the books which will be returned at the start of Term, which is probably a good place to remind people that books borrowed over the Vacation are due back NEXT MONDAY 8th October! I will post a reminder of Facebook nearer the time, but thought it should be mentioned here too.