Chapter 5 - Libraries and Teaching Provision
- Chapter three of this report set out some of the main concerns
about the current state of library provision in support of teaching in
higher education. These relate mainly to the changing nature and the
increasing volume of demand being placed on libraries, with
consequential pressures on both space (especially study space and reader
seats), and stock - books, periodicals, and other materials.
- This chapter considers library provision in support of teaching,
taking account of the recommendations in chapter four concerning
strategic planning, staff management, and the use of performance
Importance of Library Services for Teaching
- The importance of the support provided by the library service to
students and teaching staff is amply borne out by two recent surveys.
The first is the Quality in Higher Education (QHE) Total Student
Experience survey report on "Total Student Experience", published in
September 1992. This assessed, by means of a questionnaire to both
students and staff, the most important factors contributing to quality,
across all subject areas and types of institution. Of a total of 111
criteria identified, no less than three of the top five related to
library and allied services. In particular, adequate access to library
facilities (in terms of both time and location); adequate resourcing of
libraries to cater for the needs of students and teaching staff; and
adequate staffing and IT facilities, were all highlighted by the study.
- These results are reinforced by the preliminary findings of a
separate study being conducted by the Centre of Higher Education Studies
(CHES) at the University of London n the conditions needed for high
quality undergraduate teaching. Once again, adequate library facilities
emerge as one of the single most important factors.
- If recent work emphasises the importance of libraries in support of
teaching, almost all available data shows increasing use of and demands
on these facilities. Some of the data collected through the LISU study
on behalf of the Review Group may be taken to illustrate this trend, as
summarised in figure 2. For instance, the survey suggests that between
1986-87 and 1991-92 the overall volume of lending has on average risen
by 38 per cent, with the volume of reservations rising by no less than
97 per cent. Demand is also growing for other reasons, many of which
were discussed in chapter three.
- In meeting these demands libraries have undoubtedly achieved a
great deal in recent years. Some have re-examined their management and
resource allocation methods, and have adopted highly successful
strategies - for example introducing service-level agreements with
teaching departments, with careful targeting of resources to meet
defined user needs. In many cases, as the LISU survey made clear, a
great deal of development has taken place in the introduction of new
- The Review Group has however identified several areas where there
is scope for further improvement or for action by the funding councils.
These are discussed below.
Needs and Responsibilities of Teaching Staff
- Effective co-operation between teaching staff and the library is
vital if both students and their teachers are to obtain the full benefit
of the library service. In order to achieve this, teachers must play a
part in ensuring that their own needs and those of their students are
properly communicated to and understood by library staff. This point was
made in the Parry Report in 1967 (see, for instance, Parry Report
Chapter is still insufficiently applied.
- Many problems arise because of confused and insufficiently
integrated flows of information about what material is required by
students and how they should find such material, whether from the
library service, the campus book shop, or the lecturer's shelf.
Traditionally this material has comprised books and journals, but
increasingly it includes a mix of print and other media, such as
database access, video clips, newspaper articles, as well as off prints
and lecturers' notes. In many cases, where teachers make their own
decisions about materials which they consider important to a course,
there is rarely a systematic mechanism to ensure that these decisions
are translated into service delivery, nor to monitor actual student use
of such materials. The LISU survey also suggested that sufficient
thought is not always given to how far students are expected to meet
their reading needs through buying books, and how far through resort to
- One way of overcoming some of these problems would be to provide a
single database of reading list material for each course, to which
students, lecturers, library staff, and relevant book shops would have
access. If fully developed, such a database would enable students to
gain information about recommended reading, and whether it was available
in the library or the book shop; lecturers would no longer need to
provide their reading lists separately to students, the library, and the
book shop; whilst the database could also be used to monitor use of the
various options for obtaining material.
- Although there can never be a universal solution the Review Group
recommends that some demonstrator projects should be funded through the
JISC along these lines, to illustrate how the integration of
bibliographic information can benefit teachers, students, librarians,
publishers and booksellers.
- More generally, it is important that systematic planning between
library and ng staff is seen as a responsibility of the institution, and
not simply of individual staff working in isolation. With the advent of
opportunities for computer-based learning, stimulated in UK higher
education by initiatives such as the CTI subject-based resource centres
and the TLTP programme, ad hoc approaches are even less adequate. The
library as a resource base for independent learning should be a partner
in course delivery, and its management co-ordinated with the general
planning of teaching and learning within the institution.
- The Review Group thus recommends that as part of their overall
information planning, institutions should ensure that there is effective
co-ordination between teaching staff and those responsible for the
library and related provision; and that clear mechanisms exist to
implement and monitor this co-ordination.
- The Group also recommends that the existence of these procedures
should be taken into account in quality audits undertaken by the HEQC
and the teaching quality assessments made by the funding councils.
Current Funding Arrangements: Teaching
- At present, most institutions provide resources for the teaching
elements of their library and information services from the general
income which comes to them in the form of block grant and fees. In
neither case is there any explicit or earmarked element to cover library
and related costs.
- The Review Group considered whether there would be advantage in
recommending that the funding councils should operate a separate library
related calculation in the teaching funding formula, and considered
earlier examples of such approaches, including that operated by the ILEA
in respect of its polytechnics in the 1970s.
- The Review Group does not consider that there is any general case
for departing from the block grant principle in respect of funding
council teaching grant for library and related services within
institutions. This does not preclude limited, carefully targeted,
initiatives to promote particular areas of development or to sustain
aspects of provision which cannot be supported by individual
institutions from within their block grant. However in most cases it
must be sensible to place responsibility for assessing resource needs at
local institutional level, on the basis that it is institutions
themselves who can best judge these needs. Any more centralised approach
would immediately run up against difficulties of inflexibility and
- Bearing in mind the recommendation in paragraph 103, the Review
Group thus recommends that funding council resources to provide for
libraries in support of teaching and learning should continue to be
allocated through the block grant, and that each institution should
remain responsible for distributing these funds internally. This
reflects the important principle that responsibility for ensuring that
the library needs of students and staff lies with their host
institution; each institution may find various ways of discharging that
responsibility, but it is clear where it lies.
Additional Needs and Additional Resources
- On the evidence of developments already taking place and in spite
of the undoubted achievements of many libraries in recent years, there
is scope for improving the management and delivery of library services
with the resources currently available, provided there is effective
planning and definition of objectives and priorities. These points were
discussed in chapter four.
- Nevertheless, the Review Group believes that there are also some
problems which not be addressed without further resources. Chapter three
has already discussed increasing pressure on resources, and the Review
Group has identified two particular pressure points which, while not
equally intense in every institution, are nevertheless widely felt
throughout the sector.
- Widespread concern was reported in returns to the LISU survey about
the pressure on space for readers in many libraries. It is, of course,
difficult to quantify the precise scale of the problems nationally:
apart from anything else, the definition of what space should be taken
into account is not straightforward given the wide range of different
services provided by libraries, and their development in recent years.
The LISU survey has nevertheless provided some valuable data on space
issues which are sufficiently robust to support the conclusion that
there are major pressures on space in the system as a whole.
- The nature and the extent of the problem varies from one
institution to another, but the cumulative picture is clear. The total
number of library seats available for readers was virtually unchanged
between 1986-87 and 1991-92 (the period covered by the LISU survey).
Over the same period, there was a 40 per cent growth in FTE student
numbers. Growth has continued since, and in 1993-94 numbers are
approximately 70 per cent higher than in 1986-87.
- Other space which might be suitable as an alternative in some cases
only increased by a very small amount over this same period. The LISU
data show that in the five years to 1991-92, there were only very modest
increases of (on average) 1.2 per cent a year in the number of seats
available in seminar rooms and in the number of seats with IT equipment
associated with them. In any case simply placing a group of students in
a oom and expecting them to be able to undertake the same kind of work
as they could in a library is unrealistic. This is especially so in
cases where students need to use books or other materials (including
software, resource packs and non-book media) which have restrictions on
how far, or for how long, they may be taken out of the library itself.
Taken with the developing patterns of demand discussed above, these data
strongly suggest a worsening shortfall with potentially serious effects
on teaching and learning quality.
- The statistical data are reinforced by the qualitative responses to
the LISU survey. A majority of the respondents (57 per cent in all)
cited shortages of space, seating, and accommodation for users and stock
as being the single most important problem which they expected to
encounter in the next five years. This was evident in all types of
institution; 72 per cent of specialist colleges and 70 per cent of
education and general colleges cited this as a problem, as did 65 per
cent of pre-1992 universities and 50 per cent of post-1992 universities.
Only in the case of large and postgraduate institutions did this seem
less pressing, with only 25 per cent of such respondents stating that it
would be a major problem.
- A further pressure on space arises from the changing nature of the
space required. For increasing numbers of readers, the traditional
notion of what constitutes a reader space (viz. a table and chair with
good lighting) is no longer always adequate. With growing emphasis on a
more diverse range of resources to support students' learning, libraries
need to redefine space needs and working practices to accommodate the
needs of students for non-traditional resources (such as charts, plans,
non-book media, project packs, and computer resources). Indeed, more and
more courses will require group or team work on projects and students
will need access to space where material being worked on can be reviewed
and discussed in more than a hushed whisper.
- The library should thus provide an environment where a student can
work with a e of learning resources to hand, and where the environment
is conducive to study. This requires, amongst other things, provision of
both quiet study space and facilities for group study and discussion. It
should fall to the library to provide adequate study space where
students and their teachers can effectively use the resources available.
- It is possible that longer opening hours can make some contribution
to meeting additional space needs. The LISU survey provides some
evidence of demand for longer opening hours (27 per cent of respondents
cited users as demanding longer hours), and equally some evidence of
reductions of opening hours as a result of pressure on resources.
- With average weekly hours of opening in the range 60 to 65, it is
very likely that improvements in the availability of library services
can be achieved through longer opening hours. Individual circumstances
will vary, and longer opening hours (even with minimal services) would
require some additional investment of resources. However, the averages
identified in the LISU survey fall substantially short of the
recommendation of 75 hours per week made in the Australian Ross Report,
1990 (Op. cit., section 3.9, pp 55-57). Even if libraries were to open
the equivalent of only 12 hours a day over a seven day week, this would
represent a weekly total of 84 hours, substantially above the present
levels. During term time in particular, such changes could bring
valuable benefits, and although the costs would not be negligible this
could offer an efficient way of providing some increase in space usage.
- Institutions should consider these possibilities seriously, and the
Group therefore recommends that each institution should review the
opening hours of its libraries, with a view to assessing the advantages
of longer opening hours, and taking advantage of these.
- But overall this will not solve the space pressures identified.
Most students need access to libraries during the normal working day,
since it is during this period that they are on site for other purposes,
and when it is most appropriate for them to use libraries. Providing
late or overnight access, or extensive opening at weekends, certainly
helps in some cases, but it is not always practical and certainly does
not provide a complete solution. Considerations of personal safety,
difficulties of using the library when full support staff and advice and
information services are not available, and the practical problems of
students living off campus, can all limit the added value of extended
- A further contribution to dealing with pressure on space for
readers may lie in converting storage space to seating space. The Review
Group recommends that institutions should consider the scope for high
density storage arrangements and the space savings this would allow.
Similarly more radical stock disposal policies, aimed at enabling shelf
space to be converted to reader space, should also be considered. Such
approaches should be adopted where feasible, but over the system as a
whole they are unlikely to solve the space problem.
- The Review Group thus concludes that despite the scope for
overcoming some difficulties through longer opening hours and reductions
in storage space, there is clear evidence of a serious shortage of space
for readers in many institutions.
- The Review Group therefore recommends a flexible but closely
focused development initiative concerned with space and its management.
This would be a medium term programme providing funding in response to
bids from HEIs, aimed in particular at helping institutions to meet the
additional needs for library space which recent expansion in student
numbers has created.
- The Review Group estimates that the total funds required over the
UK to meet alls created between 1988-89 and 1992-93 is approximately 140
million (details of how this estimate has been arrived at are contained
in Annex D. It should be noted in particular that it does not take
account of any shortfalls in space arising from growth before 1988, nor
of the effects of containing growth in student numbers after 1992-93.
Information about increases in space available relates to the period up
to 1991-92, the final year covered by the LISU survey). Institutions as
a whole should be expected to find two thirds of this sum, with the
remaining third (approximately 50 million) being provided in the form of
earmarked capital grants by the funding councils. Not all institutions
will be equally able to contribute funds, and the ratio of council to
institutional funding will vary for each project.
- This initiative should promote the efficient use of space. Funding
would be provided in support of projects to build, remodel or adapt
space. In each case, institutions would be expected to contribute to
total costs, but the extent of their contribution would depend on their
financial circumstances, the nature of the project, and the funding
councils' assessment of priorities. The initiative would also include
support for the development of better space management, and the
development of high density storage space. It would cover discard
operations, remote stores and more flexible use of space. Those seeking
funds would need to demonstrate a clear strategy for developing their
library facilities, explain how needs have been assessed and indicate
how the proposals will address the library's objectives. In assessing
bids, the councils should pay attention to how an institution has
managed its library provision in the recent past.
- The funding councils should seek additional funds for this
programme, but in any case the Review Group believes that this
initiative should command a high priority for whatever capital resources
the funding councils have available.
Stock and Materials
- A second concern is how far the availability of stock and materials
has kept pace with the growth in student numbers and the load on
libraries arising from this.
- Money to provide for books and other materials has come under
increasing pressure because of the cost increases described in chapter
three. This has been compounded by changes in students' book-buying
practices, also noted there. This trend may be reinforced by changes in
teaching methods, since in the case of modular structures where students
take a series of discrete courses many different texts will be needed,
making investment in textbooks by students less attractive to them.
- One approach which has sought to bypass the need to provide books
and other commercially published materials for undergraduate teaching
has been the development of "study packs" or "customised course
readers". In some institutions there is evidence that these have had a
significant impact, although the pattern is variable. However, the
recently concluded agreement between the CVCP and the Copyright
Licensing Agency (CLA) which clarified the terms on which such activity
could be undertaken legitimately mean that study packs will become
increasingly expensive, and this often useful avenue of development may
well therefore be blocked.
- Another way of dealing with some of the pressures on materials is
the extension of short loan collections. The definition of this term is
in itself variable, but in general such collections are aimed at meeting
needs for multiple copies of texts which are of central importance to an
undergraduate course. The content of such a collection may change very
frequently, and even when its stock remains unchanged throughout a term
or an academic year, the shelf life of the material held is usually
fairly short as books wear out or are superseded. To be effective, the
management of short loan collections needs to be closely and carefully
co-ordinated with teaching staff.
- Short loan collections form an essential part of library provision
for undergraduate students (particularly those in their first and second
years), and all institutions should ensure that they are provided. The
recurrent cost of such provision will normally consume only a modest
proportion of a library's acquisitions budget, but can be highly
effective in meeting students' needs. Institutions should therefore
ensure that the acquisition of short loan materials is not reduced in
order to protect other areas of acquisitions, particularly journal
- The Review Group considered whether it should recommend the
immediate investment of funding council resources in an initiative to
increase the provision of short loan collections. It concluded however
that given their value and their existing widespread use, it should be
possible for institutions to provide adequate funds from within the
total resources provided to them. The Review Group recommends that each
institution should review whether it is investing an appropriate
proportion of its library budget in the development of such collections
as part of its overall library and information strategy.
Library Networking and Collaboration in support of Teaching
- One approach to dealing with pressures on space and stock might be
sought in greater collaboration and resource sharing between
institutions. The benefits of such arrangements vary according to the
nature and extent of collaboration, but may include reduced acquisitions
costs arising from co-ordinated purchasing policies, and a broadening of
the range of facilities available to users from collaborating
- The possibilities of co-operation between libraries in different
higher education institutions, and between such libraries and those
provided as part of the public library service or elsewhere, has long
been a subject of discussion. The 1967 Parry pter 2), for instance,
examined the value of co-operation between higher education institutions
and large public libraries in support of undergraduate provision; and
considered examples of collaboration between higher education libraries
in areas where there was some concentration of institutions. More
recently, the Australian Ross Report, 1990 (Chapter 5) also devoted
considerable space to this issue, in light in particular of the
Australian Government's policies for the development and amalgamation of
- In the United Kingdom, there are many examples of local
coordinating and networking arrangements between libraries, some
involving both academic and public libraries, some simply academic ones.
Such cooperation is not new. For example, the Sheffield Libraries
Co-ordinating Committee has a history stretching back over 50 years, and
the Newcastle arrangements began informally 20 years ago (and persist
largely on this basis). In addition, in almost every part of the country
there is a regional library network, sometimes informally called the
"Regional Bureau" Systems of this kind include all types of libraries,
but are in general dominated by public libraries. They were originally
concerned primarily with inter-library lending, but some regions have
recently developed a wider range of activities. Under such regional
lending arrangements academic libraries tend to be substantial net
lenders. There are in addition various library or local information
plans (LIPs), which express in formal terms relationships between
different libraries and information services.
- In order to inform their discussions, representatives of the Review
Group visited four metropolitan areas where different aspects of
inter-library cooperation and networking were considered (these were:
Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle and London. The following discussion
draws on the results of these meetings, and the Group is grateful to
representatives of the institutions involved for their contributions).
The Group has also drawn on experience of co-operation between the
Universities of Sussex and Brighton.
- Participating libraries and their users can derive much benefit
from cooperation. The formal statement of aims and objectives which
governs the Manchester arrangements under the Consortium of Academic
Libraries In Manchester (CALIM) summarises this point well by stating as
a general aim: "To encourage resource sharing in the spirit of
enlightened self interest". This is a powerful motive. Even so, it needs
to be recognised that the benefits of such arrangements rarely extend to
meeting mainstream needs of undergraduates. Many librarians are also
anxious to emphasise that cooperative arrangements involve costs as well
as benefits, and where these fail to balance in a broad sense, then it
may be difficult to pursue cooperative arrangements in a way which will
enable their benefits to be realised.
- On balance, the Group considers that there are significant benefits
to be obtained from collaboration, particularly in metropolitan areas
where there are several institutions on neighbouring sites, and where
properly structured and managed cooperation agreements are most likely
to work. Benefits may include, for instance, giving users from
collaborating institutions access to each others holdings and thus to a
wider range of material than would otherwise be the case; a coordinated
opening hours policy, so that cooperating institutions can share the
burden of opening outside core hours; and coordinated acquisition and
retention policies in appropriate areas. There may also be particular
advantages for smaller institutions, which may be able to gain access to
facilities on a scale which they would be unable to support solely from
their own resources.
- In considering the scope for cooperative arrangements, it became
clear that there was no single model which would apply to all
circumstances. Nonetheless, there are a number of factors which are
common to most successful collaborative arrangements. These include:
- .A clear statement governing the purpose and scope of collaborative
arrangements, h forms the basis of agreement between collaborating
libraries and institutions. This ensures that all those party to the
arrangement are clear about their rights and responsibilities.
- A clear framework governing the management of cooperative
arrangements, to which the staff of each participating institution are
committed. This is essential and might include a management committee,
meeting regularly, possibly with its own secretariat.
- Strong support from senior institutional management, and from
academic departments. This is important to the success of collaborative
arrangements. The statement of purpose referred to at (a) above should
therefore be discussed with teaching departments and senior management,
and should reflect such discussion.
- Collaborative arrangements which take full account of the practical
implications for users and staff in each cooperating institution. This
may include the provision of training and support for users from outside
- The physical proximity of institutions, and the convenience of
shared use for both students and staff.
- The Review Group believes that the principal responsibility for
establishing and maintaining local and regional co-operative
arrangements between libraries should remain with individual
institutions themselves. They must reach their own assessment of
relative costs and benefits, and develop cooperative arrangements to the
extent to which they believe it will benefit their users. The
development of such arrangements should not however obscure the
responsibility of individual institutions to arrange for the principal
library needs of their own student population to be met.
- There is scope for promoting further cooperation and the Review
Group recommends that the funding councils should make available
pump-priming funds as an incentive to the development of cooperative
arrangements, and to help realise the benefits and overall efficiency
savings to be obtained. A maximum of 500,000 should be made available
over three years for this purpose. Such funds should be made available
to help cover the initial costs of establishing or developing schemes,
and to underwrite short term costs which participating institutions may
- Bids should be invited from consortia of institutions to develop
networking and cooperative arrangements between them. A clear statement
of the objectives of proposed arrangements, the contribution they would
make to supporting teaching provision, and the full commitment of
participating institutions, would all be required. Participating
institutions would be expected to contribute to the costs of a project,
and normally to provide matching funds.
Teaching Quality Assessment and Quality Audit
- One of the most important developments in higher education in
recent years has been the increased attention given to quality
assessment and quality audit. In addition to institutions' own quality
assessment and control procedures, the Government has required the
funding councils to establish quality assessment committees, and to take
account of the quality of teaching in their funding decisions.
Considerable attention is being given both by the funding councils, the
CVCP and individual institutions to methods for assessing and assuring
quality in teaching and learning in higher education.
- The funding councils' methods for the assessment of quality are
still developing, and the range of criteria being used in reaching
judgements are evolving. The Higher Education Quality Council (HEQC) is
similarly at an early stage of its work. It has lear, however, that
there has been relatively little explicit attention given to the
contribution of library and related services to maintaining and
improving the quality of teaching and learning.
- Drawing on the performance indicators being proposed in chapter
four, the Review Group considers that there is scope for giving more
attention to library and related issues in the overall assessment of
teaching quality. This would have the benefit of providing both some
external evaluation of quality in library provision, set in its
appropriate context, and also of encouraging individual institutions to
examine their own quality assurance procedures in relation to library
provision. In this latter case in particular, this would form a
significant aspect of implementation of the overall recommendations
being made by the Review Group concerning library strategic planning,
integrated management, and the definition of library service objectives.
- The Review Group therefore recommends that both the HEQC and the
funding councils should take systematic and explicit account of the
quality of library and related services in the assessments of teaching
quality which they undertake, and in auditing each institution's quality
assurance processes. They should give high priority to this