Sunday, 1 March 2009

Uni Library Survey - Huddersfield Student - January 09 Edition

Verdict on Library Floor Five:

Now for many of you who are all first years at Huddersfield University and happen to use floor 5 in the university Library it will seem all new and shiny simply because it is all new and shiny quite literally. I myself am a third year English degree student, second years included and any student that’s been here for at least one year already and uses that same floor will overwhelmingly agree that there has been a massive change of floor layout and design there.

Originally it used be quite dull and honestly had an air of boredom about it. The bookshelves were quite close together making it feel more like the maze it actually was, something akin to a rabbit warren and the computers were all bunched up together in this one room at the far end where it was either too cold or too hot but always busy. Unless you happened to be there before eight o clock in the morning. Often you would go in, spot a free computer but curse when yet again someone had decided to use your chair to bunch up with their mates around one computer to chat or sometimes do work, disabling your chance of getting your own course work done.

The quiet desks for private study, at least when I used them and I mean the ones with wooden boards boxing you into a small space, felt like a cage. And those desks in particular were placed between the central stairway, bookcases and computer room, so if someone spotted a mate there it was inevitable that a conversation would occur and the silent area rule would be flaunted yet again. The chairs placed with them weren’t that comfortable either. So it would be your bum as well as your brain falling into a deep coma in such a dim and dark environment.

As for the ‘Discussion area’, well it was pretty much a culmination of the environments of both the quiet areas and the large, cramped computer room. In there again you would be lucky to grab a computer to do some work on and a seat with it and often when I’ve been in there a librarian would storm in telling us all to keep the noise down which in my view defeats the whole purpose of a ‘Discussion area’ and if it was that irritating then maybe they should have thought to install some sound proof glass in the doors as that is what they mainly made of. I am aware that it might have prevented us hearing a fire alarm if it ever went off but I for one know there were fire alarms installed in that room anyway so regardless we would have heard it.

Anyway, that has all been thrown out of the window with new design and furniture. So all those previous problems should now be corrected, shouldn’t it? Well there is no true way of finding out without asking those that use it, you, the students that is those who are studying in Education, Humanities, Music and Media.

I decided to investigate further by setting up a little questionnaire with a few key questions and positioned myself outside the entrance to floor five and asked a total of forty students ranging from first to third year their genuine opinion and comments on the new refurbishment. The questions concerned the new layout, how easy it is to navigate around floor five and not get lost, the finding of books, amount of study space, access to helpful librarians and a key factor to nearly all of us, the amount of computers available for use.

As you can see the answers range quite well on all six questions but to truly see student’s verdict on the services on floor five it is best to show these results in a nice colourful graph.

From this graph it is clear that the most approvable feature of the new floor five is its layout and that I believe is totally agreeable because now there is plenty of properly allocated space for groups to chat and hopefully discuss work as well and the silent study areas are better positioned now then ever with partitioning protecting them from all the hustle and bustle of the bookshelves and very spacious computer desks. Which is a brilliant improvement compared to the very cramped mass of computers in one room the previous year as we now all have space to place books and notes without having it balanced on our lap. Yet there may be a draw back to all this lovely open space around desks and seating which is demonstrated by the also overwhelming answers concerning access to computers. Slightly over half of the forty I questioned agreed on a ‘Poor’ rating for computer access despite the better working conditions around them.

I admit more computers have appeared all over the place since September, like the ones set against walls with the bar-type stools which are a bit uncomfortable to sit on and someone on the student board has assured me that there are concrete intentions to put another hundred computers into the library (not agreed where though) so there have been improvements on that score. Somehow though I feel the constant student demand for computers always readily available and vacant for use is a demand that will never be totally met by library services. There are more than twenty two thousand students at university and to have a computer for each single pupil, discounting the influx of additional students each year despite the number that do go on to graduate without taking on another course, would literally fill up the libraries six floors and leave no space for books, book shelves, printers and desk space needed for study without computers.

I know some may blame the library for creating this fault due to replacing two other large computer rooms on floor four into offices and so reducing the computer count by at least another hundred or so. This became apparent as a few I asked don’t actually use floor five for its books but simply because they could not find a free computer on floor four and so tried their luck up a level.

But let’s not think badly of floor five too much as it has over all improved in great leaps and bounds compared to its status last year. At least that’s what I’m interpreting from the twenty three students, a mix of second and third years who knew what it used to be like, who said they prefer it to the way it is now far more than the way it used to be.

As for possible further improvements to floor five students gave another wide range of answers, most did ask for more computers, others more group presentation rooms and even a few asked for the silent area to be strictly silent.

So the over all, the verdict from students is full of approval for the newly renovated floor five despite the criticism on computers. The library is working on that from what I’m told but all I can suggest to those students is have some patience, there is never a period of time when a hundred per cent of computers are used, there will be one free, eventually. The library isn’t perfect but the quality of services of floor five is at least near to it due to the great amount of money and time poured into updating it into the modern world.

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