Posted on 23 November 2021
[NB: there is a more recent news story with up to date information about this, here.]
Before the pandemic you didn’t have to book study spaces in the library, and since the pandemic began all of our study spaces have required booking. This current system is no longer working quite as well as it used to, so in response to your feedback (more on which below) we’re now going to move to a blend of the two. In short:
The new system will start with the vacation period, on 6 December. This gives us time to try it out, make sure it works, tweak it if necessary, and create all the signage, before term starts again in January.
As we get within the last couple of days before 6 December, the relevant spaces will stop showing up as being bookable in our library study space booking system; the spaces that remain bookable will, of course, stay in the system.
We’re going to try out a ‘Book This Space’ feature, initially in the Fairhurst on the 1st floor which is where the bookable study spaces will remain. On each desk or area there’ll be a sticker and a QR code, which will allow you to go direct to that seat or table in the booking system, right away. You can then check availability and book it there and then if you want it. We hope this will help with groups who want to study with a little spontaneity - you can still turn up on the day and, if there’s a space free, you can book it and use it right away.
If it works well we’ll expand it to the 2nd floor of the Morrell and the 1st floor of the Burton, so let us know what you think of it.
The current bookable area for external users (which is to say, people who aren't students or staff at the University) on the ground floor of the Morrell, remain bookable and accessible by external users.
The biggest problem you tell us you have with the current system is desks showing as being booked, but actually being empty. This means you can’t sit at the desk because in theory it’s taken, but the person may have already left or not shown up in the first place, meaning a free desk is right there but unusable. The second biggest problem you’re reporting is people sitting in the wrong seat, or not booking at all but using a space anyway which is reserved for someone else.
These issues alone mean we want to try and find a better solution. A lot of you would prefer no bookings at all, so you can be completely flexible as to when you study. However, many of you really value being able to book, as it provides security and guarantees your journey to our buildings isn't wasted. We’d like to provide options for you whether you prefer bookable, or non-bookable.
We’ve put various polls and surveys out there, and in total we’ve heard from 924 library users. 15% of you wanted all spaces to be bookable, 38% wanted none of them to be bookable, but the largest group - 47% - wanted a blended approach, a mixture of both. So we’re going with this option and we’ll see if it works.
The decision on how to divide the space up was very challenging. Based on what you've told us, demand for non-bookable space is higher than demand for bookable space, so we’ve made the majority of spaces non-bookable. The way we’ve divided it up means there is a mix of individual and group study spaces which are bookable, and a mix within the buildings themselves. We realise this approach may not be perfect for everyone - for example if you REALLY like the Morrell 1st floor but also REALLY like booking a study space, you’ll end up having to compromise somehow. We don’t want to make things difficult for anyone so we hope that no one is too put out by these changes; ultimately they will, we hope, make things work much better overall.
King’s Manor Library is undergoing some refurbishment over the Christmas vacation, so will close on 6 December and reopen on 10 January. Even when we reopen in January, we will still be awaiting the arrival of some new furniture, so the booking space will need to evolve with the available spaces. For that reason, all King’s Manor Library study spaces will be non-bookable for a period of around a month, while the furniture is finalised. We’ll monitor things closely during that time and will find ways to get your feedback on how that works: if it works well it may become a permanent change, but if it doesn’t work we may go back to the current blend of bookable (1st floor) and non-bookable (ground floor) spaces.
As always we’re happy to hear from you about this or any other library issue. You can DM us on social media, send us an email, or use our Chat service - all the contact options can be found here: