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Expansion in online content

In light of COVID pressures and the delayed return to Oxford for many of our students, MPLS library staff have continued to undertake significant efforts to expand ebook provision for MPLS students and researchers - building on the rapid expansion of Online Reading Lists (ORLO). Our team have worked in partnership with academic and other colleagues double checking reading lists, evaluating ebook offers and other electronic resources, and working with colleagues to identify and make core textbooks available.

Over and above many individual textbooks purchased or subscribed to, this has included access to significant research ebook collections, including collections from Springer and Elsevier proving access for 12 months to over 60,000 textbooks, access to the ebooks collections from the publishers CUP and Brill, and access to the 1.5M HathiTrust ebooks available via SOLO throughout both lockdowns.

Recent new research ejournal subscriptions now available via the library catalogue SOLO and our new user-friendly online journal finder online journal finder Browzine:

Chem; Nature Computational Science; Nature Reviews Methods Primers; Nature Astronomy; Nature Electronics; Nature Food; Nature Machine Intelligence; Nature Reviews Earth & Environment; Nature Reviews Physics; Nature Aging; Nature Cancer; Nature Metabolism; Nature Food; Nature Reviews Methods Primers; Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

A number of other new MPLS subject specific collections, journals, and other online support materials will be in place shortly - for example, the SPIE Digital Library and ebook collection, the SAE Journal collection, the ICE Virtual Library, the AMS Graduate Studies in Mathematics ebook collection, CUP Fluid Dynamics, Springer Materials, and Birds of the World.

Online Reading Lists (ORLO)

All Hathi Trust and other new ebook items have already been added to relevant MPLS ORLO reading lists and our team have continued to expand support for ORLO checking and updating reading lists with new online books or other content. This included library staff scanning and adding 182 book chapters from Bodleian stock to MPLS reading lists since the start of Michaelmas. 76% of items on MPLS ORLO list are now available electronically.

Open Scholarship support

Our team continued to support our academic colleagues across the full spectrum of open scholarly communications – including day-to-day support and assistance with APCs, funder and REF compliance requirements, and other in-depth enquiries. The Oxford Research Archive (ORA) goes from strength to strength, with 82,000 full text items now publically available for download - with over 122,000 downloads in January. ORA Data now houses 902 datasets/data records with MPLS leading the way with 516 deposits. Our staff have also been active contributors to the University’s RDM Review Task & Finish Group, working to take forward the review’s recommendations.

Skills development support: Graduate and Undergraduate Students

We have very successfully transitioned our program of induction and training workshops to an online only environment, delivering hundreds of induction, iSkills, other training sessions and seminars, and online one-to-one support sessions to thousands of students and others since the start of the academic year.

The Bodleian MPLS team delivered a full range of induction and training sessions as part of this effort, with, for example, 73 induction sessions delivered to 1,300 students and others at the start of Michaelmas. With many students over and above this also being able to access pre-recorded sessions. A range of online tools are being used including Teams and Panopto with live, recorded and mixed sessions provide, and a full iSkills programme was provided for Hilary Term.

Our team also provided support for the Bodleian’s expanded (and three times as busy as this time last year) library Live Chat service available from our webpage and SOLO as part of our central email enquiry service,  We have seen dramatic increases in the use of these services – with, for example over 1,300 queries dealt with in the first three weeks of January.

Library space and physical services

Government guidance has been clear that there should be continued library support for University students who are on campus and the Bodleian Libraries have always had a firm commitment to supporting our students in their studies and research. Libraries are crucial to good mental health and wellbeing by providing access to appropriate study spaces as well as materials.

Therefore, following some temporary closures and work to review risk assessments and to put in place any new measures required, all of the main Bodleian Libraries are now re-opening. The RSL at the Vere Harmsworth Library is open via advance booking through our SpaceFinder service – please see for up-to-date opening hours.

To help address COVID restrictions, Click and Collect and Scan & Deliver are still available to provide additional access to our print collections.  As a whole, the libraries dealt with 8,000 scan & deliver requests from 1st Jan to 7th Feb as well as almost 5,000 click and collect items

Plans are underway to extend opening hours to normal levels across all sites in time for Trinity, public health situation permitting. All fines remain suspended and the loan period for all books has been extended until Thursday 29 April.

Please note: The Vere Harmsworth Library and the RSL will be closed for the Easter Bank Holiday weekend from Friday 2 April to Monday 5 April 2021.

Covid-19 response

Collecting the story: capturing records of Oxford’s research response to Covid-19  is a new and time-sensitive initiative from the Bodleian and History of Science Museum to ensure that key materials are captured and preserved for posterity so we can tell the story of the University's contribution to the COVID pandemic response.

Open Access news


Wellcome’s new Open Access Policy came into effect on 1 January 2021. An overview of the policy, plus practical action points, are available via Open Access Oxford at

Springer Nature’s ‘Guided Open Access’ pilot

Springer Nature have introduced a ‘Guided Open Access’ pilot with three of their Nature-branded titles. Under the scheme, authors submit a manuscript to one of the journals and pay a non-refundable Editorial Assessment Charge. In return, they get a review document which includes an initial peer-review, and a recommendation of publication in one of six Springer Nature titles. The Guided OA mechanism avoids multiple rounds of review in different journals and it could potentially reduce the overall cost of publishing a paper but it could also result in increased costs, depending on where it gets accepted. It also runs the risk of paying a £1,890 Editorial Assessment Charge and the paper ultimately being rejected. Oxford does not support paying Editorial Assessment Charges from block grants. This does not prevent authors from publishing in Nature titles.

Including funding and institutional affiliation details

This is a reminder of the importance of listing funder information and grant numbers associated with an article when submitting for publication. This is a requirement by most funders and many of the publishers will automatically apply the funder mandated licence if this is done. Equally, with the University of Oxford partaking in a number of institutional publisher agreements, we would ask that authors use an institutional email address when communicating with publishers, as this is one of the indicators used to distinguish eligibility for publishing open access under these agreements.

From the Bodleian’s Public Engagement Department

Roots to Seeds: The Weston Library’s next exhibition based on MPLS research

Planned to open in the ST Lee Gallery in May 2021, Roots to Seeds recognises 400 years of Botanical collections in the University and the contributions made by Oxford University to our understanding of plant sciences. The exhibition also celebrates the founding of the Botanical garden in 1621. The lead curator of this exhibition is Professor Stephen Harris, Druce Curator (Herbaria), Associate Professor in Plant Sciences, and lecturer at Christ Church.

Intense work on the exhibition is now underway. Most of the material which will be on display has been brought to the Weston Library from Plant Sciences. Highlights include several works from the Sherardian Library, such as Sibthorp and Smith’s Flora Graeca from 1806, and additional watercolours of plants painted by Ferdinand Bauer in the late eighteenth century. Specimens of plants housed at the Oxford University Herbaria will also be on display. Some are from Oxford, for example Auricula cultivars, probably from the Oxford Physic Garden in the Bobart the Elder Herbarium (c.1660s). Others come from elsewhere in the world, for example Theobroma cacao which was collected by Hans Sloane in Jamaica at the end of the seventeenth century and given to William Sherard.

The Education team is developing the ‘Into the Green’ poetry project which will include the benefits that plants bring to physical and mental health. This project will be focused on secondary school pupils and will run from Easter to June. Award-winning Oxford professor of poetry Alice Oswald will select poems for inclusion in a publication.