University library spaces under strain

By and

There are concerns that the university’s plans to expand its student body from 17,500 to 21,500 between 2017 and 2027 will not be matched by a comparable growth in study spaces.

As of yet, there are no specific details on the University’s library expansion plans available, although the university says that they are ‘coming soon.’

Mike Wall, Assistant Director and Deputy Librarian, said: “We are planning further investment in study space as the University grows and exciting plans are underway for the Business School and Leazes Road developments.”

He continued: “Later this term we are going to introduce an app to make it easier for students to find a study space in the Bill Bryson Library and also improve the way we communicate the availability of space across the University.”

It is speculated that these plans will include an expansion of the Bill Bryson Library, which was originally supposed to have six floors. In addition, the University plans to have built six new colleges by 2027, presumably each with a new library.

The Bill Bryson Library has a capacity of 1,800 study spaces, while the newly completed Teaching and Learning Centre has 450 new spaces. In addition, each of Durham’s colleges has its own library, which can be used by members of that college.

Nevertheless, there is a common perception that Durham’s library spaces are increasingly fought over, and that it is difficult, at times impossible, to get a seat.

In the last year, the Bill Bryson has sought to alleviate these issues by starting library 24/7, meaning that it is now open all day, every day. Furthermore, in order to highlight how many seats are available at any given time, a seat counter was installed, which is displayed opposite the reception desk and can be accessed online.


In response to these concerns, Palatinate has compiled a list of our top five best, but somewhat underused, places to study:

The Cathedral Library: In operation since 995 AD, it is now the oldest functioning medieval monastic library in the U.K. It is free to join and is open 10am to 16:30 every weekday.

Techno Café: Situated in the Calman Centre, this is perhaps one of the least known study areas in the city.

The Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC): The newly opened £40 million development is part of the university’s 2017-2027 Masterplan, and is currently far less used than the Bill Bryson Library. 

Kingsgate Café: Situated in the middle of the DSU, the café allows students to work in a less constricted environment. Renovated in 2019, it is open 9-5 during the week.

Leazes Road Library: The library is located next to Hild-Bede College and is part of the school of education. Visitors also make use of the library, with most students not frequenting it for study.


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