Durham University Library to remain open 24/7

By Alex Leggatt

Durham University’s Bill Bryson Library will now remain open 24/7 throughout the whole of term time, beginning at the start of next term.

Saul Cahill, Durham Student Union’s Undergraduate Academic Officer, made the announcement today through the SU website.

He described “campaign[ing] for a library that was open 24/7 throughout the entirety of term time” as one of his “key pledges” following his election to the role last year.

In a press release, Mr Cahill said that he was “thrilled” to announce the policy: “During my election campaign, students talked to me about the added flexibility that extended opening hours could provide, as well as the benefits to students who worked or have caring responsibilities.

“I am confident that these extra opening hours will deliver a library that is there for students when they need it”

Saul Cahill, Durham Student Union’s Undergraduate Academic Officer

“I am confident that these extra opening hours will deliver a library that is there for students when they need it, but won’t pressure students into feeling like they need it for longer than they do. Most of all, I hope this extra flexibility will prove useful to you over the rest of your studies!”

The policy, which was first proposed by (Science Postgraduate Faculty Rep), was passed following a year-long campaign, according to the SU website.

Following “ongoing work with the Library, Security and Estates & Buildings” in Epiphany term 2019, the policy was trialled during exam period in Easter term, and the impact reviewed.

The policy, which was first proposed by (Science Postgraduate Faculty Rep)

The initial SU assembly regarding the policy noted that there was “a growing trend among UK universities to offer full time 24/7 library access,” with numerous campaigns attempting to lobby for 24/7 library access in recent years.

However, the assembly also noted that students were “under increasing pressure to perform well at university,” with an FOI request revealing that 1141 undergraduates (8.5% of the student body) were being seen by University counsellors in the academic year from October 2016 – July 2017.

The SU recognised that “actively lobbying the University to spend funds facilitating all hours working may contribute to the growing problems with student mental health.”

The assembly thus required “suitable evidence” to support the motion, and resolved to “investigate the pros and cons of library 24/7 opening,” research which Mr Cahill was mandated to undertake.

The SU recognised that “actively lobbying the University to spend funds facilitating all hours working may contribute to the growing problems with student mental health”

Mr Cahill used this research to address fears that opening the library continuously would “increase pressure on students” by “encouraging a culture of 24/7 study that could prove harmful.”

The research found that there was “a demand for 24/7 opening outside of what is currently available”

The research included analysing three years’ worth of data from the University Library, which found that there was “a demand for 24/7 opening outside of what is currently available.”

The analysis also found that there was “very little difference in library usage between the last week of ordinary opening hours in Epiphany Term and the following week when the library is open 24/7.”

This suggested that the main cause of increased library use was “pressure from assessments” rather than opening hours.

Mr Cahill revealed that the University Library will be working alongside library security to monitor students’ wellbeing in the library, as well as working with the SU to promote healthy study habits through the “Revise Wise” campaign.

The University Library will be working alongside library security to monitor students’ wellbeing in the library

In a Facebook post, Durham Student’s Union said: “This has been a priority for Saul since his election, as a service that was really important to support flexible study, especially for students who work, commute or study part-time.”

The university introduced 200 new study spaces and a new cafe in February earlier this year, to address complaints that there were not enough library seats for the number of students using the library.

Photograph:

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