Ill-timed library closures spark student anger

Image credit: Peter Iveson

Image credit: Peter Iveson

The University has come under increasing pressure from students after only opening the library for one day out of the four day bank holiday weekend just before exams start and assignments are due in next week.

Second-year exams are scheduled to start next week and third-year students have deadlines for assignments; but the University has refused to open the library and has only made other spaces available instead after lobbying from YUSU.

However, this still leaves students preparing for exams and writing essays without access to resources in the library and many have also complained about the lack of information regarding this issue.

Cecile Ichard and Romain Cormary, exchange students from France, came back to York on Wednesday expecting to be able to access resources over the weekend but did not realise until Saturday morning that the library was shut for most of the bank holiday weekend.

Cormary said: “The library should at least be open in the mornings or in the afternoons, but not being closed for three days in a row.”

“We only learnt about this today, the University should really have thought about this before.”

The library is shut on Good Friday and over the weekend, re-opening on Easter Monday from 10am-6pm and then normal hours thereafter.

Jon Somerscales, a second-year student studying Electronics and Music Technology, commented that: “I am not usually organised, but luckily I got the books out I needed before Easter. If I hadn’t have got them out though, it would have been very useful [to have the library open].”

Ben Humphrys, YUSU Academic Affairs Officer, has said that he lobbied the University to reconsider and open the library over the weekend; but without success.

He admitted: “Part of the issue is that the closure came to my attention very late on – only this Monday – which I take some responsibility for.

“We did propose a couple of alternates to the library – including using Sabbatical Officers and Security Services to keep it open or getting in a security firm, but they were unwilling to take the risk that that entails. What we need to do now is make sure that we close this gap so this doesn’t happen again.”

The University has agreed to make some James Dining Hall and the Brian Blessed Centre for Quiet Study available for study. However, many students are unaware of these arrangements with several students sitting outside James Dining Hall not realising that this space was available to them as well.

Olivia Overtington, a first-year English literature student, said how she came back “expecting the library to be open” but she didn’t even know where the other available places were, describing the situation has “just a pain for us.”

Unfortunately, the University was unavailable for comment.

If you wish to make a complaint or suggest improvements to help prevent this situation again, you can visit: http://www.york.ac.uk/library/forms/suggestions

23 comments

  1. 3rd years have exams too, i have one on friday. Means 3 days without the key texts that are crucial for the exam.

    Not impressed

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  2. 23 Apr ’11 at 9:09 pm

    Champagne Conservative

    Dismal.

    At £3000 per year, we deserve better than this.

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  3. I’m not surprised that the library is closed for Easter weekend. That is to be expected, which is why it amazes me that the university and its various departments have been so short-sighted as to schedule exams and due dates immediately afterwards.

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  4. 24 Apr ’11 at 11:46 am

    Liquor Labour

    At £9000 per year, future students probably won’t get better than this.

    That said, I feel YUSU should be somewhat commended for their efforts here, e.g. booking of James Dining Hall.

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  5. 24 Apr ’11 at 6:14 pm

    Freddy Rincon

    What’s crazy is that the Sports Centre is open when the library is not

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  6. Completely right freddy!

    I can work out over easter but not prepare for my exam (Tuesday morning). Says everything you need to know about this university’s priorities!

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  7. it’s because the sports centre make the university money, classic cantor putting money over students needs.

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  8. Absolute joke. Wasn’t it bad enough that there wasn’t actually anywhere to sit in the library with your key text while being treated to loud drilling and builder banter, without it also being closed for three days in a row and then open shortened hours for a fourth, immediately before students have exams? Who cares that it was a bank holiday? I couldn’t care less. The university has the responsibility to make sure students have access to the facilities that are vital to our work. We’re damn well paying the university enough money for our degrees that they could have made arrangements to avoid this scandalous disruption. Or if it’s really too much to ask to part with the monetary crumbs that would have been paying some overtime, then this situation should have been foreseen when term dates were being arranged. Oh, but of course we’re having the new luxurious study building lavished on us on Tuesday aren’t we? Well I’m afraid it’s too late. As we probably all now realise after listening to Rebecca Black, Tuesday comes AFTER the previous Friday.

    In addition, the article suggests that only second years have exams in week 1, when third years also do.

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  9. 25 Apr ’11 at 4:35 pm

    Champagne Conservative

    I hear Hes Hall needs a new jacuzzi.

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  10. The Sports Centre isn’t just used by students though. Locals comprise much of the gym membership too so it makes sense for it to have independent opening/closing times to the academic buildings.

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  11. Good thing I took all my notes last term.

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  12. Surely the problem is due to easter being so late this year. I don’t see why the date of easter is decided by the moon or whatever, why don’t we all just pick a date and have it on the sunday closest to that date. Then easter wont move around as it pleases and cause libraries to close the weekend before exams because it’s having a lazy year and is running late.

    Hes Hall are really out of touch for allowing the library to close over the weekend, surely there should have been a student influence reminding fat cat Cantor of what his students expect.

    If Brian can’t find the money to keep the staff in over the bank holiday (hint: you don’t need a chauffeur to travel to Hes East) then he doesn’t have to squeeze 10 weeks into third term. I’m pretty sure that no other Uni in the country has so many teaching weeks after easter. As a result, to finish term by July third term has to start quite early, resulting in this unfortunate situation.

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  13. 25 Apr ’11 at 9:44 pm

    Michael Tansini

    How the hell did no one in the university or any relevant department realise the clash that it would cause. And why did YUSU not realise that situation until Monday. They are all incompetent.

    *This comment has been moderated

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  14. 25 Apr ’11 at 11:49 pm

    Michael Tansini

    @Matt: Don’t give them an excuse to cut any more teaching hours!

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  15. Another very relevant point – at least some departments if not all insist on students attending lectures on bank holidays during term time; this is a recognised phenomenon at York. Why then was the library closed on bank holidays?

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  16. @Michael: I meant maybe if we started a few weeks earlier instead of mid October so the teaching hours would be made up. I can see how my comment was misunderstood.

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  17. 27 Apr ’11 at 11:00 am

    Luke Malkin & Charlotte Hogarth-Jones

    Two points:

    1 – Humphrys should have been aware of this as soon is the library published its timetable to find a solution as soon as possible.

    2 – Library staff deserve bank holidays too! Students could be a little more organised. Henceforth, if my first point had have happened, students could have been more organised/alternative arrangements could have been made much more easily.

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  18. 27 Apr ’11 at 1:15 pm

    Schmitgang Wolfring

    People do get ever so worked up about the library. I mean, it’s quite useful and everything, and I’m aware that in some subject it’s more important than in others, but I can count the number of times I’ve used it for essays on the fingers of both hands (and I don’t even do maths!).

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  19. 29 Apr ’11 at 9:12 pm

    Champagne Conservative

    Props to the library for a prompt, polite response to the barrage of complaint e-mails, at least.

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  20. What the hell am I going to do?! Need books badly for my mystery shopping assignment.

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  21. Reply from a complaint I sent to the library:

    Dear Pav

    Thank you for your complaint about the Library closure on three days over
    the Easter weekend and please accept my apologies for the disruption to your
    work.

    The University is closed for the four days of the Easter weekend, and it is
    difficult for the Library to open when infrastructural services, such as
    cleaning and catering, are not available. However, because term started
    immediately after Easter we did make special arrangements this year to be
    open on Easter Monday. The Library will be open every day this term for
    normal term-time hours, including the additional Bank Holiday on 29 April
    and the two Bank Holidays in May.

    The Library opening hours during the Easter vacation have been publicised on
    our website and via other communication channels from two weeks before the
    end of the Spring Term, but I am sorry if you were unaware of the three day
    Easter closure.

    Discussions within the University are already underway about the level of
    services for students in vacations and we will feed your comment into those
    discussions.

    With best wishes
    Elizabeth

    ———————————————————
    Elizabeth Harbord
    Asst Director of Information (Services)

    — ENDS —

    The annoying part is the complete inconsistency; library closed over the bank holiday weekend, yet two exams on the Royal Wedding.

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  22. One must view such closure as a test. Only the truly deserving will gain good degrees because they weren’t cramming during the last few days. Hurrah for rewarding the studious

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  23. Royal Wedding wasn’t known that long ago; you know as well as most that the university takes about 3 years to change anything.

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