Library Survey 2016: e-resources

Work in progress - your comments, and my feed for Libary Survey 2016

Work in progress – your comments, and my feed for Libary Survey 2016

Just as we are to launch this year’s Library Survey at the Divinity Library, I have suddenly remembered that my colleague Amanda had collated all your responses to ‘If I could change one thing, I would change…’, and that I never got back to publishing all comments, and our feedback. Sorry! So without further ado, here are your comments about e-resources, and my feedback – I hope that these are useful:

More e-journal article subscriptions. Please contact us about any ebooks or ejournals you are missing in our provisions – we recently discovered that one fairly major US journal was not listed on iDiscover, but that we had at least print-access.


In terms of journals, I’m personally more than happy to go “e-journal” only, in particular as the UL is not able to buy print and e-access for most journals, but needs to consolidate its fund on one or the other. Institutional journal costs have increased massively, and despite the University of Cambridge not being a poor university, we do not have the same funds as a lot of less prestigious, US universities. I haven’t lately done a comparison of tuition fees, but I guess that we are still much cheaper than comparable US universities.


Libraries cannot buy all Ebooks we are asked to buy, as some publishers do not provide institutional licenses. However, please suggest ebook titles, and we will investigate this.


Re: Oxford Handbooks: we should have access to all of these. Which titles were you missing?


Please contact us by email ( for any (e)books or (e)journals you cannot find – we can also check the UL backlog for you, and ask our colleagues to fast track cataloguing and processing there! This has happened many times since I asked PhD students and academics to let me know if they couldn’t find a book iDiscover

Exhaustiveness as regards e-journals and e-books: it’s very unfortunate indeed that, as a Cambridge student, I have to ask my friends from universities in Canada to get me a pdf of this or that journal (most of the e-journals from De Gruyter I’ve needed have been inaccessible to me, to give but one example for e-journals; as regards e-books, Oxford Handbooks for instance are not accessible to me) or this or that e-book.
In general, Cambridge is light years behind the USA schools concerning e-resources. We’re not in the same league here on that. This was my biggest surprise upon coming to Cambridge. And this pertains to the UL overall, not just the Divinity library holdings. That being said, what the Divinity faculty library has book-wise is very respectable for such a small library.
That the library would obtain e-journals and books not found in the UL or Tyndale House.
More e-books/ e-journals so I can work from my accommodation! Definitely more convenient.
Ability to request a single journal article from a non-subscribed journal, or a single book chapter from a book not in the catalogue and have a scanned version delivered via email at no cost to me. This was a provision at my past universities, and was extremely useful. I get the impression that costs and University systems preclude it at Cambridge, but it would be fantastic to have this service.  In theory we could supply scans of single journal articles from DivLib print copies – however, in practice our current staffing levels mean that we cannot offer this time-intensive service. Sorry.

With regard to single book chapters from a book, I do not know what you mean by “not in the catalogue” – in the UK we are (by law) not allowed to provide  scans of book chapters of books we do not own! And are restricted by copyright laws to providing only 1 chapter (or up to 10%) from 1 book for 1 cohort of students.

It sounds to me as if you are a PhD student, but if you are on a taught Div Fac programme, please get in touch; especially, if this chapter is on a reading list for a paper! This we do all the time, and only the limits under UK copyright law stop us from helping with this more.

I hardly use e-books and think they are pretty hard to use, I think nothing can replace having access to physical books. I am also dyslexic and find it very hard to read from a screen so the assumption that e-books solves the issue of not having enough copies is disrespectful to those with specific learning difficulties. I’m sorry to read that you have difficulties in using ebooks. Neither the UL nor we have a policy of providing “ebooks only” (for titles we can purchase); however, we cannot duplicate every ebook copy with a print copy. If you would prefer a print copy of an existing ebook, could you please get in touch, and please mention that due to being dyslexic you would prefer a print book. Personally, I do not think that ebooks solve the problem of having enough copies, there are other ways too (for my opinion on the matter, you can read a blog post I wrote in 2011:
Access to restricted e-books which currently require using specific computers in the library Since 9 May 2016 we have a designated Electronic Legal Deposit Terminal in the Divinity Library, see ; we hope that as more material becomes available, we might be able to have more terminals. The fact that we need to do this at all is for UK legal deposit laws – I cannot say that it’s likely that this will change, but the practicalities of this law will soon be reviewed. If you are interested in knowing more about this: An overview over how e-legal deposit works in Cambridge and in the UK: British Library’s pages of Legal Deposit:

One final comment if I may: there is no separate Divinity Library budget for e-resources, and all e-resources are available to all members of the University (this is a policy decision which I think makes most sense). However, we have supported the purchase of the Digital Karl Barth Library from the Divinity Library’s (book) budget. E-journals, also cannot just be purchased for the members of the Faculty, meaning that the costs are much higher than they would be, if we were purely asking for e-access for the (lower numbers of) members “within our building”.

I hope that the above is helpful, but if you have any questions about e-journals or e-books, please contact me.



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