Alleviating Library Space Concerns

As exam season approaches, the pressure on study space increases – as someone who always got into Bedford early to claim the whiteboard spots, I sympathise!

However, with the increase in study spaces due to the EWD and Founder’s in comparison to the Bedford building a few years ago, I hope that this is slightly alleviated.

Recently, there have been a couple of concerns raised surrounding various aspects of the library; after meeting with library staff, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to recap some of the conversations!

Access to library space

This month there have been numerous reports that non Royal Holloway students are accessing the library facilities. I have raised this issue with both the library and Estates, and had constructive discussions with both. Local institutions have been contacted regarding this issue and the point has been made clear that the library facilities are for the purpose of Royal Holloway students.

Now, of course, it wouldn’t be appropriate nor a just allocation of resource, for all students to be checked in the library. However, if you are facing issues of behaviour in the library then please do contact library staff who will be able to assist you. In the longer term, I have received suggestions that the gates be ‘activated’ to allow for College card access only. I am optimistic that such a feature could be implemented but would appreciate your views on how this would work (e.g. 24/7, if not then what limited time, what if someone has lost their College card etc.)

In response to comments and some Bright Ideas suggestions, it is worth highlighting that the library prioritise easy access – recent events have prompted an elevation of this discussion. I have also discussed the issues with Estates who have informed me that they have made it clear to the provider institutions visiting campus on the restrictions.

Re-arranging of furniture

I have also noticed the various comments regarding the new furniture arrangement in the library. In response to this, I went up to the space and spoke with some students using the space, in addition to listening to comments coming in online and emails coming in too. It has become apparent that there is dissatisfaction amongst some students regarding the re-arrangement, I have passed on these comments to the library and am looking forward to furthering such discussions.

In previous feedback, the message had been that the library should provide a variety of study spaces – both for silent study and collaborative study – and therefore the layout wasn’t providing this. As always, if people do have comments then please do let me know and I can communicate these with the library and work out a compromise!

Study space expansion

At a time when the library services are in hot demand, a priority has been placed on providing an increase in study spaces where possible. The re-arrangement has led to an increase in 56 spaces, in the former training room, as well as adding 30-40 extra spaces in the group study area. Primarily, I am pleased to update everyone on the Library@ scheme. This is a really important development that enables you to access more spaces during this period – signposting the suitable areas that can be used to study outside of the EWD building.

Reading lists

A major frustration for some modules can be the lack of a clear reading list. You may turn up to our Book Sale in the autumn term but with no idea on what books you need for your modules! Over the summer, I worked closely with library staff to contact academic departments constantly to ensure that upload and uptake of the central reading list system was what it should be.

I am really pleased that 12 departments have 100% on this, and a further eight have 90% or above. I am hoping that this can increase even further in the next academic year and would strongly advise that publication of reading lists are something that you inform your academic reps about!

I hope that this helps some of the discussion over library facilities at this time. Rest assured, the library staff want to make your experience as best as it can be and will be dedicated and happy to help if you encounter any issues when trying to study.

Good luck to everyone with your exams – remember that there is still activity going on in this term and we at the Students’ Union are on hand if you need support!

Jack O'Neill // Vice President Education