Save the Language Centre library

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Oxford University Language Centre Language Library (a multimedia resource and self-access centre) has the highest number of languages for independent and class-based language learning in a UK university language centre with about 200 currently available. From Aramaic to Zulu, Ancient Greek to Welsh, British Sign Language to Esperanto, the collection has steadily grown over the past 40 years, mainly in response to requests from students and staff.

Now there is a draft business plan to dismantle the library and disperse the collection among other libraries at Oxford and to the bookstack in Swindon. We consider that this would deprive present and future staff and students of a priceless resource, painstakingly assembled over many years. In addition, abolishing the posts of Language Centre librarian and the two extended-hours assistants would mean that language learners would be unable to benefit from the advice and guidance of qualified, specialist professionals.

The draft business plan argues that library use is declining but the official statistics show that annual library use remains at a historic high and in 2017-18 was about 75% higher than it was in 2012. Furthermore, the lack of a qualitative approach gives no voice to students and staff!

The whole collection should remain within an appropriate physical space in the Language Centre or, if this is considered unfeasible, then that it should be moved to a single, fully-resourced and equipped, central location at the university.  

In either case,  Oxford University students and staff would continue to benefit from:

  • Specialist staff providing advice on library materials (physical or online items) and strategies for independent language learning.
  • A dedicated space for language learning with formal or informal teaching (1-2-1, small groups), and multimedia resources.
  • A unique collection of foreign language materials for language learning continually growing in response to requests from students and staff.
  • The Tutors, Translators and Proof-readers database


We would be very grateful if you could support us, especially if you have been using the library materials (physical or online) and its services. Please do not hesitate to comment on this.

UPDATE (7 March 2019) there are two letters defending the LC Library in the Oxford Magazine (pages 30 and 31)

UPDATE (14 March) an article in the Cherwell gives a broad overview of the situation



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