Lending in the Law Bod

By | 15 November 2019

It is week 5 of the Get to the Know the Law Bod series and this week we are looking at lending in the Bodleian Law Library.

It may seem like an unlikely topic given that the Law Bod is a reference only Library but we thought we would take the time this week to explain the no-lending policy as well as highlight some common misconceptions that may arise when using the collection within the Library.

Why is it reference only?

The LawBod has always been a reference only Library.  This means that the book that you need will always be here!  But what about when the Library is closed?  In line with wider Bodleian policy, we’re investing extensively in e-resources that our students and Faculty can access at any time and from anywhere in the world using Single Sign-on:  look for the green spot and the Online access links on SOLO.  For decades, Law has led the way worldwide in making primary resources available on-line, and here in the LawBod we subscribe to an extensive range of legal databases https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/law/popular-links/databases .  We have also used our Copyright Licensing Agency Higher Education Licence and ORLO (reading list software) to provide direct online access to a wide range of materials for postgrads on taught courses.  Every few years we consult the Law Faculty about lending, and so far the Faculty has preferred us to maintain a non-lending policy.

Copyright receipt obligations

The Bodleian is fortunate to be one of the British Isles’ six libraries of legal deposit https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/our-work/legal-deposit .  Publishers within the UK must deposit their work in a number of nominated libraries, of which the Bodleian is one, and a substantial part of the LawBod’s collection comes through this method of copyright receipt.  The Bodleian preserves deposited publications in perpetuity.  At present, no Bodleian Library lends print material received by legal deposit, and under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 it is not possible to lend electronic legal deposit (eLD) items, as they may only be accessed on from Library PCs within the premises of the Legal Deposit Libraries

Advantages to reference only

The main advantage to being reference only is that the books will always be here.  This is of particular advantage to students on taught courses where there is often a number of students looking for the same material at the same time.  The Law Bod can offer a ‘back-up’ to college libraries when their copies are out on loan, which means that students should never be in a position of not being able to read material on their reading lists due to it being in somebody’s room.

For researchers this means that you can access all your material in one place and at one time, when you need it, without waiting for it to be returned by another reader.

It also means that there is less chance of a book going permanently missing, for example if someone were to mislay it, or leave Oxford without returning it.  This is particularly important for material that is difficult or impossible to replace.


Can books ever be taken out of the Library?

As explained above books cannot be taken out of the Library by anybody but we wouldn’t be ‘law’ if there weren’t a few (very restricted) exceptions.


We do send items off to the Bodleian’s Accessible Resources Unit (ARACU) so that they can make appropriate copies to support students who need material in particular formats.  These are usually items that we have in hard copy only and the turnaround is quite quick so we get the material back here promptly.


Some of our serials (journals and law reports) arrive in parts throughout the year, but we do not receive a bound volume for the whole  year from our supplier.  To look after the material, so that it does not get damaged or parts go missing, we bind the parts up.  We do not have a bindery here (more’s the pity) and so we send the parts off to be bound.  We try and minimise the impact of this and quite often we can find an electronic version for you to use.

Inter-Library Loans 

As with most Bodleian Libraries, the Law Bod does accept inter-library loan requests from other institutions (whereby we send items on loan for use within that institution’s library).  However these are heavily restricted (especially for law) and do not include law reports, journals, loose-leaf publications, anything published and received via copyright receipt in the last 5 years, anything that appears on a reading list or that is needed for basic legal research.  (The full list of restrictions is much longer). In return, we can request loans from other institutions, of items we don’t have in Oxford for our own students.


Why can’t I find the book on the shelf if the book is always supposed to be here?

The book is being read by someone else

An obvious reason, especially if a book is on a reading list, is that a fellow reader has got there before you and is using it within the Library.  Most of the time it is obvious as there is a gap and we encourage the use of shelf slips for this very reason.  If you suspect this to be the case, it is worthwhile having a quick check of the trolleys to see if we just haven’t had a chance to re-shelve it yet.  If you are unsure then come the Desk to ask.

The book is on a research desk

The book may be on a research desk within the Library.  This is not always obvious from the catalogue record but see below for what to look out for.

The book is missing

Sometimes in a library this size books can go missing.  The most common reason for a missing book is that it has been shelved in the wrong place. If it is a thin or small book it could also have been hidden within another book or slipped behind larger books on the shelves.  The Law Bod has a system in place for checking for missing books and so if you notice that a book is not there come and ask at the Desk.  A member of staff will usually check that it is not for one of the reasons above and may have a quick check to see if there is an obvious place where it could have been mislaid.  If that is not successful we will fill in a card (we will, with your permission, take your contact details to notify you).  Our more expert shelvers (with an eye for things out of place) will then check periodically over the next few weeks to see if we can track it down.  Of course if the need to consult the book is more urgent then please do say at the time of reporting as we can either look into the possibility of ordering a new copy, or if this is not possible, look into an inter-library loan.

Why does a SOLO record say there is a due date when there is no lending?

It can be confusing when you find a SOLO record that has a due date for a book within the Law Library.  Almost always the date will be for a date in June (regardless of what the current date is).  Please don’t despair or scratch your head as to why some people can borrow: the book is still here!  The book will be on a research desk within the Library and you can still access it.  Research students can ‘reserve’ certain books to their research desks and this involves us scanning the book ‘out’ to them for the academic year.  Unfortunately the way this shows up on the record on SOLO is as a ‘loan’ with a due date.

If you come across this then getting access is simple.  Just come to the Desk with the details of the book, a member of staff will then locate the relevant research desk and go and get the book for you.  If the person is currently using the book then we can negotiate a convenient time for you to consult the book.  We just ask you bring it back to us when you have finished so we can get it back to the right place!

What is the Reserve Collection and why do you need to scan my card if I am not taking them out?

The Law Bod has a collection of the most heavily used items (mostly things on reading lists) kept behind the enquiry desk.  We do this because we need to keep an eye on the use of these items to stop them going missing within the library by accident or being ‘squirrelled’ away for convenient use!  We do this by ‘issuing’ the books to you for use within the library and so they appear on your record.  We will not track you down (for any reason) if you are using the book within the library but you will need to bring it back to the Desk when you leave the library so we can take the book off your record.

If you don’t bring it back before the Library closes you will get an automated email letting you know.  These emails go out early in the morning and have standardised wording for the whole of the Bodleian and so please don’t alarmed by mention of fines.  You may occasionally get an email even though you brought the book back: it may be that if it was very close to the Library closing time, the staff had shut down the system already so didn’t scan it until the morning, or it may be that it was not scanned in properly.  If in doubt please contact us and we will investigate.