Library Survey 2016: More books!


New books display, opposite DivLib Issue Desk

We are happy for any current member of the University of Cambridge to recommend books to us. Preferably by emailing us, or using our online recommendation form, or using a (printed) recommendation form – available from a shelf opposite our Issue Desk. The worst feedback, I feel, you can get from any library user is “More books!” – that’s not because I don’t want to hear it. To the contrary: I like the idea that library users “still” want to use books (indeed my experience, of working in Cambridge for 6 years now, tells me that most library users prefer printed books to ebooks!) No, what is so bad about this feedback is:

  1. To me it somewhat sounds that you need to tell this to librarians, who – generally-speaking – do not have a problem with having more books, except for the constraints their library spaces might make on them.
  2. It is actually a fairly unhelpful comment. We add about 600-700 volumes per year (including numerous donations!), so we are “repeat offenders” when it comes to adding more books. However, when I read the suggestion “More books!”, I wonder two things: 1. Which specific books might this person have seen as lacking in our library provisions? 2. Did we (in theory) have a book, but was the copy (or were all copies) borrowed already, so that did we not have enough copies (not any multiple copies)?

We are really happy to have reader suggestions, as we cannot anticipate all the books any of our readers might want, need or find useful. Please, please, please let us know when you cannot get the book you needed.

Okay, onto the suggestions received in our Library Survey 2016:

Number of books:

More books on the reading lists for students. We are very happy to do this. However, we need your help! Please:

  • Put a hold on a book which is borrowed by someone else, but needed by you. We regularly check the holds placed on books, and where possible buy extra copies.
  • Please email us at to alert us of any books on reading lists we do not have. Most of your lecturers send us the reading lists for your papers in May and June of the year preceding when the paper is taught – however, despite our best efforts and working very hard between May and October, we do not always get reading lists from every single academic, and sometimes books are out-of-print, and not available second hand.
  • We are happy to purchase ebooks, but almost every single request for books we receive makes a preference for print, not online. Please let us know which titles you would like us to investigate as ebooks, and we’ll see which we can buy (not all books are available as ebooks to libraries!).
More copies of books on reading lists
Have more copies of books available, if two people are set the same essay it limits the books to one person
Have more books that are on the reading list available either in hard copy/online as many times students do the same essays at the same time and they are all taken out.
I’ve had trouble locating books on my reading list for the Islam module. Make sure these have been ordered to the library.
I think there should be more copies of books on reading lists as sometimes vital information for an essay is lost because the book was on loan to someone else and the divinity faculty was the only place that had it.
It’s not uncommon for reading list books (particularly for ordinands) to be all on loan: when buying multiple copies of core texts it might be sensible for some copies to be reserved. I’m sorry that this is the case, but there are two reasons for this:

1.       We actually do not receive reading lists for papers taught within the Cambridge Theological Federation.

2.       Our primary remit is to support the teaching and learning of members of the Faculty of Divinity, then any other member of the University of Cambridge.

We are happy for members of the Cambridge Theological Federation to borrow from the Divinity Library, but within the CTF you should have copies for the courses taught there, then the UL copies should be used, and DivLib should ideally only be your third point of call. We haven’t got the budget to purchase also multiple copies of core texts which might only be needed for CTF modules. Sorry!

Book topics:

More books in Christian Theology in addition to e-books. (I.e. Not settling on e-books only as a sufficient provision) We welcome suggestions, so please let us know of specific titles. Please fill out our online form, email, or fill out (a) Book Recommendation slip(s) (available from opposite the Issue Desk in the Library).
However, we won’t be able to buy all possible books, or even be able to anticipate what you will need/want. Also, we cannot duplicate every book which might be available either at the UL (over 9 million books!), or in other Faculty and Departmental Libraries. We are very keen to buy unique, relevant books – as it is likely that the books you need for your study and research might be needed by someone else too.



One thought on “Library Survey 2016: More books!

  1. Pingback: Most borrowed at DivLib in 2016-17 | divlib

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