A Students’ Association survey about the library has revealed that students would like extended opening hours and action against ‘seat hogging’.
Students had the opportunity to participate in the survey last semester. Its purpose was to identify areas where the library and the Students’ Representative Council’s Education Committee could work together to better the student experience. The Association received 1,015 responses.
The survey revealed that one of the most important issues for students is extending the opening hours of the building. Forty-nine per cent of respondents said they would make use of the building if it opened at 9 am at weekends. Similarly, 48 per cent said they would use the library if it was opened until 2am on Friday and Saturday night.
Both the library and the Students’ Association are keen to see opening hours extended, with trials for extended hours to come in the near future. Ewan McCubbin, the assistant director of the library, said that there is “no promise that this will be a permanent change” because extended opening hours would require extra staff to be contracted.
The survey also found that postgraduate research students were pleased with the new Martyrs Kirk research library, which received “very positive feedback”, though taught postgraduate students expressed frustration that such a facility was not available for them to use.
Finding alternative study spaces is an area that the Students’ Association is urging both the library and the University to address for all students. However, 43 per cent of respondents admitted they were not aware of the two 24-hour IT labs in the Irvine Building and Butts Wynd, which are available for students to use throughout the semester.
The survey also showed that students would like to see the opening hours of other libraries, such as St Mary’s library or the JF Allen library, extended. The Students’ Association believes that the situation could be solved by installing an unmanned swipe-in entry into these facilities for use after regular closing time. In particular, allowing access to St Mary’s after 5 pm on weekdays and on weekends would relieve the strain on seating capacity in the main library during busy afternoons.
The issue of ‘seat hogging’ is “polarizing”, according to Mr McCubbin. The majority of respondents to the survey said they would like to see the library take action on those who leave their personal belongings at desks for several hours. A recent incident of theft in the library highlights the problem with leaving belongings unattended.
The Students’ Association said that there are “some strong opinions for both in favour and against taking an action on seat hogging, and introduction of any new policies should be consulted with the student body.”
There was recognition that the library had improved in recent years, especially following its £7 million redevelopment. Many students felt that more could still be done, however.
One respondent said: “The library has come a long way in my four years, which really is great. There is still room for improvement but some of it is just infrastructure. This library was not designed for so many people but it’s still a really useful place for studying and I am grateful for it and the other study spaces throughout the University.”
Ondrej Hajda, the SRC’s education officer, added: “Do not be afraid to speak to the library: they are incredibly helpful!”