One of the most memorable aspects of the student experience for St Anne’s students past and present is the College library. At the very heart of St Anne’s life, the library is open at all hours. Three dedicated members of staff advise students and care for the collection (the largest of any Oxford college). They support the teaching and research effort of St Anne’s by building and managing book collections and providing access to digital and printing resources.
As we begin to build our new Library and Academic Centre to complement and extend our Grade II listed library in Hartland House, it is a good moment to reflect on what the library is and does. And who better to tell us about it than our former College Librarian, Dr David Smith.
What sets a College Library apart?
College libraries can do what bigger libraries find difficult: 24-hour opening throughout the year, generous and flexible lending, and the rapid purchase of materials needed urgently by students. The direct contact between Library staff and teaching staff means we can be instantly responsive to students’ information needs.
‘Though all students have their own computers and can connect to the internet anywhere, they still come to the Library to work.’
Since the digital age began, many have predicted the death of the library but the facts and figures seem to suggest this is has not happened. What has been St Anne’s experience of this?
The biggest change is the dramatic decline in use of printed periodicals. We are phasing these out as the digital versions are what people use. For texts, textbooks, and research monographs and collections, hard copy is still the preferred medium here even where digital versions are available, and demand for new printed material is if anything increasing. Also on the increase is demand for shared work space that is separate from living space. We need to provide both quiet “traditional” library work space and less formal areas for group work. Though all students have their own computers and can connect to the internet anywhere, they do come to the Library to work at fixed desktops and to print, and this demand too is increasing.
Did you know?
Our new Library and Academic Centre will create areas for group working and quiet study, and will double the number of desk spaces currently available.