THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY made almost £70,000 in fines from students, staff and borrowers last year, but despite promises from the Student Union Ed Campaigns Officers, the University still doesn’t have a 24-hour library service.
According to Elizabeth Heaps, Head Librarian of J.B Morrell library, library fines raised £67,764 last year, and that as part of the library’s earnings are “not linked to anything specific” but generally used as funds for library resources.
However, many students feel that the library’s fine-earnings ought to increase its capacity to provide more services to accommodate for their needs, as John Craine, a second year English and Philosophy student said “I don’t see why the library doesn’t use the money to provide students with services they want”.
Meeting such student demands, has indeed been a main concern for the Educational Campaigns officers Matt Cunningham and Michael Nicolaides, who not only ran in the SU elections on a platform of extending the library times but state the campaign as part of “a long-standing policy of the YUSU”, involving lobbying for further extensions through library Board meetings.
In recent surveys made by the J.B Morrell library, extended opening hours appeared as a priority for the majority of students.
These demands have been partially met by the new changes in opening times with up to a further 14 hours this term, only closing at midnight during week days, while open until 9 pm in the weekends.
Many students still feel the need for a library that provides access to study areas, resources and books around the clock, especially in view of the library earnings.
In response to the likelihood of a 24-hour library, the library Head of User Services and Administration, Wayne Connolly, said it is “not out of the question, but it is expensive”. Logistically, achieving the opening hour extensions this term required not only nine months of planning for the library, but will demand a further £20,000 from the library budget per year to sustain seven new part-time members of staff, necessary to fill the late hour slots.
Around the clock opening hours would not only require further staff increases but an extra £50,000 from the annual budget, making the total annual costs of hour extensions amount to £70,000.
Elizabeth Heap however says the £67,000 received from fines form a part of the library’s “overall income”, and as such are “more or less steady” year after year, though not used for specific services, the sum goes towards “books and journals and electronic
Information resources” rather than staff increases.
Questions of further extensions however, despite the costs, arise in view of the positive student response to the current opening hour extensions. This is reflected by the numbers of late-night library-goers: with above 40 students present in the library past 11 each weeknight and up to 80 people past 7 pm in the weekends; Wayne Connolly felt that the library efforts put into the project had been worthwhile.
However, the long term student campaigns for a a 24 hour library have still not been satisfied.
BY Charlotta Salmi