Editorial 196: An admirable effort, but how effective will the library’s new ticketing system really be?

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The news that the University library is finally tackling the issue of seat hogging is music to the ears of many. Finding a seat in the library has become a mammoth task – especially if you are hoping to sit in the quiet section or, heaven forbid, actually want a private desk. If things have reached the point where students are literally sitting on the library floor to get work done work, as many did during exams last year, it becomes clear that the issue needs to be addressed.

The Saint welcomes the new ticketing policy, which will allow students to move belongings from library desks which have been empty for over an hour. That things have had to come to this should serve as an eye opener to students who see no problem with leaving their laptops or books strewn across coveted second floor desks whilst deciding to head out for a lengthy lunch with friends. We are positive that everyone, at some point, has walked up and down the floors of the library in search of a seat, only to find that the empty seat they were eying has someone’s belongings thrown over it. If you are leaving the library, then you are leaving the library and your possessions should leave with you. End of story. This is only polite and fair to the rest of the student body.

Although the library should be commended for taking action, it will be interesting to see how much of a difference this new system will make. We must ask ourselves: what can a piece of paper really do? Yes, it will allow people to move abandoned items to the side and sit down to work, but this may still be rather uncomfortable. Not only will the items still be present on the desk, but also many students may feel apprehensive about moving someone else’s things and having to deal with the awkward encounter when the absentee student returns.

Furthermore, an hour is still quite a long time to leave a desk unmanned.

For students in desperate need of a desk to quickly finish work before a tutorial, or to make last minute changes to an essay, an hour makes all the difference. As students already know that monopolising study space causes problems, it is unlikely that only a piece of paper will cause them to change their ways. A possible way to take decisive action would be to introduce a slight fine alongside the ticketing policy. We recognise that a system of this sort would be extremely tricky to organise, but feel a fine system similar to the one for returning late library books would be a sure fire way of ensuring that desks remain clear.

Though it is understandable that the library staff does not want to upset anyone, in trying to please everyone the newly released policy is rather feeble. In fact, it is entirely possible that this two year- in-the-making scheme may have no effect at all. As the University has spent so long deliberating about what course of action to take, it is fair that we expected a little bit more. Hopefully if accompanied by a strong campaign, this initiative will help alleviate some of the pressures on study space.

All in all, it is rather upsetting that this matter has gone far enough that the University had to involve itself in the first place. If students agree to show a little more courtesy, we can work together to tackle this seemingly perennial problem.

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