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The library’s new extended opening hours have been met by a positive student reaction. Statistics are showing excellent take-up, especially for the new late period on Saturdays. According to figures for the first three weeks of this term around 400 students have been using the library after 6pm on a Saturday night.
Staff have also been highly positive, although a number of complaints about have been noted regarding small numbers of library users not respecting the working environment.
Head Librarian Clare Powne was happy to tell SCAN that the trial period has been a success. “Overall I think it’s been well worth doing,” she said. The extra students on a Saturday night represent an increase of 50% on top of daytime usage.
The response to extra hours at the start of the day has been relatively muted, with around an extra fifty students in the building at 8am. “What seems to be the case there is that it’s the people who want to ensure that they’ve got a space in the reading room who are making the effort to come in really early,” said Powne.
Students speaking to SCAN in the library were in support of the changes. Helen Close, a County first year, uses the library up to five times a week, seeing it as the best place to prepare for exams. “The revision’s mounting up, and I find it easier to work in the library than at home,” she said, adding that the extra hours at either end of the day are needed to cope with such increased demand.
“Extending the library hours is ideal in some respects because it gives people the opportunity to study away from noisy environments,” says Rubiea Hamid, a first year from Bowland College. “Even though it’s questionable whether or not many people would actually make use of the library during these hours, since the Learning Zone serves a similar purpose, it’s still good for students to have the choice to work where they feel more comfortable.”
The role of the Learning Zone has been prominent in this issue, but the general consensus is that the 24/7 facility does not render extended library opening hours unnecessary.
Senior Library Assistant Janet Harris said “all the students view it positively, and I think it’s worked very well.” However, there has been some confusion, with students wanting the library open later than ten o’clock on Fridays. “Students who were leaving at ten o’clock weren’t very happy because they didn’t understand that it was closing at ten on Friday but opening until midnight on Saturday,” said Harris.
Powne is open to the possibility of later Friday opening. “It would certainly make sense if in the exam period we were open until midnight Monday to Saturday,” she said.
The increased usage of the library has unfortunately led to a number of complaints being made to staff, with noise levels and litter becoming recurrent issues. An anonymous postgraduate student and library assistant said that “as a student I’m becoming really frustrated because I’m finding it more and more difficult to work in the library. It’s a very busy time of the year, I understand that, but unfortunately it’s becoming acceptable to disrespect people.”
The library has been working with LUSU on the Respect Campaign, placing advisory bookmarks around the building, with staff doing their best to uphold a good atmosphere.
“What it really boils down to,” said Powne, “is the students themselves setting the culture. It must be the case that at some point everybody needs quiet space to revise in.”