The amount that colleges spend on their libraries is key to their academic performance, a Cherwell investigation has found.Cherwell’s analysis shows the statistical correlation between access to reading material and Norrington Table performance. New data on 15 undergraduate college libraries, obtained by Cherwell through Freedom of Information requests, sheds light on the role of college wealth in the undergraduate student experience. The libraries of colleges that ranked higher on the league table tended to be larger and have more books.The data also shows that library size is largely determined by the size of a college’s assets, which varies from £329 million for New College to just £24.8 million for Harris Manchester. This range was reflected in college library budgets for new material, which ranged from an annual average of £20,000 for Merton to just £4,700 for Mansfield.Three out of the top five highest budgeted libraries (Merton, New College and Magdalen), ranked in the top 10 of all wealthiest Oxford colleges, while three of the five lowest budgeted libraries (St.Hugh’s, Harris Manchester and Mansfield) belonged to colleges in the bottom 10 in terms of endowment size. These revelations come amidst other rising questions about the relationship between college wealth and student experiences. A Cherwell investigation last term demonstrated how wealthier colleges are able to expand their endowments much more rapidly and the impacts upon academic and admissions standards.In 2002, an Oxford SU report demon- strated that students “are far from guar- anteed a common educational experience, with detriment not only to their academic performance but also to their general welfare and financial condition.”Vice-President of Access and Academic Affairs Lucas Bertholdi-Saad told Cherwell: “We believe in an Oxford education where colleges are at the heart of the education and support each student receives, but where the college or hall to which a student belongs makes no difference to the quality of their education, including the quality of education resources. “We also ask students to offer their feedback all year round and play an active part in shaping their learning experience.”College libraries are a crucial resource to students, especially those studying humanities. While all course materials are available in the University-wide Bodleian libraries, these books are often occupied by other students on the same course. Central Bodleian libraries also tend to have more restrictive opening hours than college libraries.Most college libraries have liberal policies on purchasing new material on request from students, but this process can be cumbersome. Students with access to more well-resourced libraries can therefore gain an advantage in the speed and breadth of their essays.A spokesperson for the History Society told Cherwell: “The correlation found by Cherwell’s investigation is upsetting, but not surprising. The flexible opening times and accessibility of college libraries mean that to many students of text-heavy subjects like history a well stocked college library is crucial to producing high quality work. This is despite the less wealthy Oxford colleges spending a far higher proportion of their assets on their library budget for new material, with New College’s library taking in just 0.4% of its endowment annually compared 3.3% for Harris Manchester.Four of the top five colleges in library budgets (Merton, Magdalen, New and Balliol) rank among the top five in Norrington table score averages from 2006-2017. Likewise, four of the five colleges with smallest library budgets (Exeter, St. Hugh’s, Mansfield and Harris Manchester), ranked in the bottom ten of Norrington table scores. “While for extended projects like theses the Bodleian Library is very useful, college libraries are often more convenient to use for weekly tutorial essays due to the former’s restrictive opening hours and rules about some materials remaining on site.“As such, the quality of a college library is particularly important when, during the process of writing an essay late at night or shortly before a deadline, one discovers an urgent need for further, specific materials. While ideally a student should plan their time with this in mind, realistically, students with access to a well stocked college library fare better in these types of common situations.”The fifteen colleges included in Cherwell’s investigation were Balliol, Brasenose, Corpus Christi, Exeter, Harris Manchester, Magdalen, Mansfield, Merton, New, St Anne’s, St. Catherine’s, St. Hilda’s, St. Hugh’s, University and Worcester. Other colleges had to be excluded due to issues with standardization of the data.
DelFest, the festival brainchild of Del McCoury and his extended McCoury family now in its 13th year, in partnership with High Sierra Music, announced an initial star-studded lineup today. Once again, DelFest Academy will serve as a prelude to the festival, taking place May 17-20 at the Allegany County Fairgrounds, with registration also opening on Dec. 3rd. The Academy is a 4-day instrument-specific deep dive led by The Travelin’ McCourys and other star players, and students of all ages and skill levels, from children to adults, are welcome. On May 21-24, 2020—Memorial Day Weekend—DelFest will stay true to their original mission statement with musical performances from The Del McCoury Band, The Travelin’ McCourys, Old Crow Medicine Show, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones, Punch Brothers, Sam Bush, Billy Strings, Mandolin Orange, The Infamous Stringdusters, Sierra Hull, and emcee, Joe Craven with many more to be announced. The city of Cumberland is also a great host, offering multiple hotel options, a charming downtown and great amenities including biking, a steam train engine and museum, and top-notch dining. In addition to traditional stage sets by these world-class artists, attendees can again expect to see one-of-a-kind collaborations, special guest sit-ins, various tributes to Del McCoury and his musical legacy, intimate appearances, both at unique “playshops”—informal workshops where the emphasis will be on performance rather than instruction—and in late-night indoor performances and picking sessions. Stay tuned for more artists and ticket information to be announced in the coming weeks. Relive the magic from DelFest 2019 with Osiris’ Brokedown Podcast who was on-site recording exclusive interviews with last year’s artists. Personally chosen by Del McCoury, the Allegany County Fairgrounds in Cumberland, MD serves as the perfect location for DelFest–nestled along the Potomac River in the scenic Appalachian Mountains, the Fairgrounds are convenient to four major airports and easily reached by rail or road. Please visit DelFest.com for more information or to purchase discounted Advance 4-Day passes. About DelFest: Held at the Allegany County Fairgrounds in beautiful Cumberland, MD, DelFest originated from the desire to create a family-friendly music festival celebrating the rich legacy of McCoury music while creating a forum for world-class musical collaborations and to showcase fresh new talent. Fans are encouraged to take advantage of discounted Advance 4-Day passes which are available now at DelFest.com. All other passes including DELuxe VIP packages, on-site RV passes with and without hookups, and parking will go on-sale Dec. 3rd at 12p EST. Produced in association with High Sierra Music, the 13th Annual DelFest will again offer a quality festival experience stamped with the unique McCoury touch.