Bill Bryson Library to now remain open 24/7 – Palatinate

Posted: October 3, 2019 at 11:41 am

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By Alex Leggatt

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

Saul Cahill, Ex-Student Unions Undergraduate Academic Officer, made the announcement in July 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.

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, but wont 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, first proposed by Stuart Goldie (Science Postgraduate Faculty Rep), was passed following a year-long campaign.

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 reviewed.

The initial SU assembly 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 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. 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 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.

Image by @durhamuni via Twitter

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Bill Bryson Library to now remain open 24/7 - Palatinate

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October 3rd, 2019 at 11:41 am

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