RSL Decant Project 2020-21 – Proposal and Consultation Papers

As part of the planned Parks College Development, it has been proposed that the Radcliffe Science Library’s undergraduate collection and services would be temporarily decanted to the Vere Harmsworth Library, from the period of January 2020-Summer 2021.

The proposal would provide Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) readers with study space, group study rooms, open shelf teaching collections and a service point for RSL related enquiries, during the Parks College development and the redevelopment of the RSL. This will impact on the VHL, its readers and on the RAI and its staff and fellows. Both the VHL and RAI as the foremost library and institution respectively for supporting the teaching and research activities in American studies in the UK. It is therefore very important ensure that the temporary science provision in the VHL will not harm those activities in any way.

Therefore, the Bodleian has been working, in advance of the decant, to ensure that any potential inconveniences to current users of the VHL and the RAI are identified and mitigated. This includes a consultation on these possible impacts and their amelioration with VHL staff, the Institute, the History Faculty and across the relevant academic divisions. The Consultations are a way of ensuring that our readers are able to feedback their concerns regarding the Decant Project, and consider possible ideas for the VHL’s future.

The Proposal and Consultation papers for the RSL Decant Project, 2020-21 are available for you to view on the VHL webpage. They include the current plans proposed for the VHL, issues already identified, and the mitigations which will be put in place. We encourage you to view these documents before providing your feedback.

You are welcome to provide your feedback to us in person at one of our upcoming Consultation Meetings (see below) or through our online survey, which closes on the 22nd October, 5pm. The survey is anonymous, and you would only need to provide details of your faculty and year of academic study.

Upcoming Consultation Meetings 

14 Oct. 4-5pm: Open Meeting, Lecture Theatre, Weston Library

16 Oct. 2.30-3.30pm: Townhall meeting for history students, Lecture Theatre, History Faculty

Any issues or questions about the consultation process can be directed to Bethan Davies, Vere Harmsworth Librarian:  

New in Oxford: Jewish Life in America via Adam Matthews Digital

I am pleased to announce that Bodleian Libraries have been able to make a new eresource purchase which may be of interest to American historians.

The Bodleian Libraries have committed substantial external funding to a one-off set of purchases of electronic research resources deemed to be important to researchers in the University. This follows a project to identify desiderata across all subjects and to list suggestions from readers. The list includes items which cannot easily be covered by recurrent budgets.

Jewish Life in America via Adam Matthews Digital, c. 1654-1954

Based on a rich variety of original manuscript collections from the American Jewish Historical Society in New York, this indispensable resource offers captivating insights into the everyday lives of the American Jewish population over three centuries. Charting the Jewish Diaspora from the earliest settlements through to the mass European influx of the early twentieth century, Jewish Life in America will appeal to researchers of all aspects of this diverse and extensive cultural heritage.

The collection is based on a rich variety of original manuscript documents ranging from a peddler’s certificate signed by Benjamin Franklin, to records of organisations such as the Baron de Hirsch fund, which supported Jewish entrepreneurship all across America from 1819 to the 1980s.

Also of Interest:

Further US History resources can be found on our online guide. For further assistance with finding and using online resources, please feel free to contact the Vere Harmsworth Librarian, Bethan Davies. 


Welcome to Bethan Davies, the Vere Harmsworth Librarian!

I am delighted to announce that Ms Bethan Davies will start as the new Vere Harmsworth Librarian on Tuesday 27 August.

Originally from Shropshire, England, Bethan gained her undergraduate degree in English and American Studies (dual honours) from Keele University, which included a semester abroad at the University of Greensboro, North Carolina. She then studied for her taught master’s degree in Renaissance Literature at the University of York, before entering the field of librarianship as a library graduate trainee at Anglia Ruskin University.

In her current position as a Trainee Liaison Librarian at the University of Reading, she provides library-related support for Philosophy and Classics departments. This includes management of both department’s library budgets and online reading lists, and providing information literacy support for students and researchers, through teaching sessions and individual support. She also works with the Library’s Special Collections in promoting their collections to academics and researchers using social media and other platforms.

She has a postgraduate qualification in Librarianship from the University of Aberystwyth, is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA), and is currently working towards Professional Registration with CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals).

Bethan very much looks forward to applying her knowledge of US Studies at the VHL and supporting and getting to know readers of the VHL and RAI fellows. Do come introduce yourselves and say hello! From 27 August, her email address will be and her phone number will be 01865 (2)82701. You can also follow her on Twitter @BethanDavies9.

OULS renamed The Bodleian Libraries

Today is the 465th anniversary of Sir Thomas Bodley’s birth, and also marks the rebirth of Oxford University Library Services as the Bodleian Libraries.   Our name won’t change, as the Vere Harmsworth Library, but our website is now and our email addresses are now @bodleian rather than @ouls (eg,   The central libraries’ website is now   Please update your address book and bookmarks!

For more information, please see:

In the spirit of rebranding, I’ve given this blog a makeover too!