The area covered by the South‐Western Regional Library System comprises nine counties: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire, Somerset, and Wiltshire. Had it been possible simply to assume that any area containing the University of Oxford must necessarily possess almost infinite library resources, local library problems might safely have been left to solve themselves and this paper could have been brought to an abrupt end forthwith. But neither the Bodleian nor the college, departmental and other special libraries of the University can fairly be described as forming part of the library resources of the south‐west; Oxford is on the extreme edge of the area and its libraries, in so far as their use is not confined to members of the university, are manifestly of national and not regional importance and scope. It is, therefore, entirely reasonable that the recent important amendment to the Bodleian rules which permits the loan of non‐copyright material from the Radcliffe Science Library should have stipulated that such loans be negotiated through the National Central Library and not through the Regional Bureau. The presence within the Region, however, of one of the world's greatest libraries confers inestimable benefits on all who find themselves within tolerably easy reach of it, and the Bodleian has always been generous in assisting librarians in the south‐west. For the purposes of this paper it would be as futile to attempt to describe the Bodleian and the other Oxford libraries in a few sentences as it would be preposterous to omit all mention of them, and it has therefore seemed best thus briefly to assess their position at the outset before passing to a description of the resources and problems of the Region as ordinarily understood.
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