197R. Harrod to Henry Miers, 19 January 1931 [a]

Harrod explains that he has drafted his minority report, but the form of dissent can only be decided after having read the other report--in particular the questions of cataloguing and re-classification. "I have attempted to write it in the spirit of construction rather than criticism." [1] Continues at 198 R.

  1. 1. This replies to a letter by Miers of 17 January, asking Harrod to finish his minority report by 29 January (in HP VI-70).

    At this point, Harrod had changed his mind, and radically shifted the emphasis of his minority report with respect to the first draft (see note 1 to letter 192 R; drafts of the new version are filed in HP VI-85-86/2 for chapter I, VI-85-86/5-7 for chapter II, and VI-87); it is not possible to ascertain whether this shift was suggested, or only supported, by A. H. Smith (see letter 196 R of 10 January). At any rate, Harrod probably felt that he could achieve more by leaving the road to compromise open than by breaking completely with the majority of the Commission; from Smith's letter it would also seem that Harrod feared he could not get from the architect a plan for a new library on a different site in useful time.

    Instead of resolutely criticizing the Broad Street site as inadequate and proposing an entirely new building, Harrod adopted an attitude more suitable for compromise. He reduced to an incidental remark his previous claim that a new library is necessary, he accepted the principle of the Broad Street site, subject however to some conditions, and concentrated his criticism to the majority report on the facts that it did not attach sufficient importance to the two principles of accessibility and concentration, and that it did not offer a permanent solution. As to the first point, Harrod opened his report with a long peroration of the advantage of open shelves and by pointing out that this would be incompatible with the proposal of keeping the 100,000 best volumes in the reading room. Harrod's argument was based on the perspective that such an arrangement was not likely to reflect the way in which research was likely to be pursued in Oxford. The majority report dealt instead with the question of access to shelves in a couple of lines: "we see no reason why the Librarian should not, at his discretion, grant the privilege of direct access to the shelves more freely than has been possible in the past" (draft of the majority report, in HP VI-90; Bodleian Library Commission, Report, 1931, pp. 59-60). Harrod therefore recommended a new building in Broad Street, asking however that it were equipped with stack to hold 3 million fully accessible books and with reading cubicles, that ample space were devoted to research rooms, and that two independent wings for Rhodes house and the library of the Taylor institution were provided. The latter request was meant to concentrate these facilities within a single building. In order to have more space available, Harrod proposed the construction of a separate repository for 1 million volumes, those less requested by readers. In his opinion, the number of books in the reading room should not be increased (save of course for dictionaries, reference books etc.).

    1. a. From Christ Church, Oxford # , two pages ALS, in HP VI-71 (presumably a copy).


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