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Lancaster University Library is now set to open its doors to students and staff 24 hours a day on a permanent basis. The new opening times will allow round the clock access to the library and its facilities until the end of term.
Having undergone a trial period of opening 24 hours, five days a week during exam period last year, University Management have decided to implement it on more permanent basis. With many complaining of overcrowding in the Library during exam times, this trial period received a lot of positive feedback from students.
The pilot opening hours were taken advantage of by hundreds of students during the 2013 summer exams, with the trial as a whole being deemed very successful. Bailrigg FM celebrated the preliminary opening times last year by hosting a 24-hour library challenge to promote and encourage students to take advantage of the new opening hours.
VP (Education) Joe O’Neill – known during his campaign last year as #FTjOe – made the extended library opening times one of his main policies during his election campaign. Speaking to SCAN he said: “I’m delighted that Lancaster has taken the decision to finally pilot a 24 hour library. This is something students have been calling for for years and something I personally ran on as a key election pledge last year. I am personally very pleased to have been able to accomplish during my time in office.”
It was also recently announced that large-scale renovations are to be made to the Library itself. O’Neill added: “Alongside the £15 million refurbishment of the library which I have been helping to move forward as the lead student representative, this shows that the university is committed to catering to the student experience. I’m very happy to have been able to successfully lobby to achieve this and it’s exactly the sort of service our students deserve. A 24-hour library is something I think that if we are serious in cementing ourselves as both a leading UK & international university, is essential that we keep.”
The 24/7 opening hours will ultimately give students choice when it comes to their study schedules. It is important to remember that students do not all study in the same way, with each individual employing different techniques and approaches. Deputy Librarian David Summers said that: “Students will have more freedom to study at the times they choose. We recognise that many prefer to study in the late evening and early hours of the morning.”
Speaking about the student demand for the new opening times Summers explained: “Like any University service we try to assess and respond to both stated and proven demand. There is a clear stated demand from students for overnight opening and the demand is proven for the examination period, but it is not yet proven for other periods.’
There has been some debate as to whether opening the library 24/7 on a permanent basis would affect a significant enough number of students to justify the expense. Summers responded to this saying that “There have been a few busy nights since we started round-the-clock opening at the start of December, but so far the overnight attendances have not been great. We fully expect take-up to increase as we progress through the Lent term.”
As well as the new library opening times, the facilities department has been engaging with the student population to determine whether it would be desirable to introduce new furniture into the study spaces. The sample furniture has been displayed on A floor and consists of several variants of new chairs, tables and sofas as well as more enclosed and private all-in-one study carrels.
Whilst the library will remain open 24/7, the staffed service hours will remain 10am to 8pm from Monday to Friday, and 1pm until 6pm during the weekend. The Library is also considering opening on a 24/7 basis during the Easter vacation period, depending on popularity during term time.