I’m in Oxford, and have just been to Duke Humphrey’s library at the Bodleian to examine the 1648 volume of Combefis containing a fragment of Eusebius’ Quaestiones. The reference I have is good, the book is a folio printed text, and I need copies of half a dozen pages.
But I’ve come away without any. Why? Because I cannot bring myself to be robbed by these greedy bastards.
The Bodleian will only do “digital scans” — i.e. photographs. These, as we all know, are basically free. You click a button and that is it. Price for ‘bitonal’ – what you and I know as black-and-white — is 29p per photo, 600 dpi. That is steep, but not impossible. But of course when the paper is old, with black and white you get spots and wrinkles everywhere. So that’s really no good.
The next option up is greyscale. Of course that costs them not a penny more. But they want, wait for it, 3.87 GBP ($6 or thereabouts) per photo. That’s the price of changing one setting on their camera. Greyscale would probably cover my need, but I’m not paying that.
Colour is even worse; 17.20 GBP – around $27. Again, it costs them nothing more.
This is unconscionably greedy. Were I of the mentality of Thomas Wise, I think I might be minded to just tear the pages out. I have no doubt that some readers will do just this. Greedy libraries get damaged books, and I have seen books at the Bodleian so treated.
Apparently a certain Allan James is head of imaging, and so probably responsible. If you know him, tell him what you think of him.
This naked greed — to the point of rendering work impossible — qualifies the Bodleian for the Bloodsucker Award, which is duly awarded to those whose lust for money is indulged to such an extent as to destroy the mission of the library.