The issue of the library's opening hours has produced far more comments and complaints this year than in previous years. In response to the increasing demand, which was reflected in the major survey of students' opinions carried out in May 2007, opening hours will be increased significantly from January 2008. The Robinson Library will remain open until midnight from Monday to Thursday, and until 9pm on Saturdays and Sundays during term-time. During the extended hours, the library will be supervised by a new team of part-time porters who will ensure safety and security of the building and its customers. In order to conserve energy as far as possible, the lower floor of the building will be closed during extended hours, but the main study areas, equipment and books and journals will be available on a self-service basis.
Complaints about noise in the library, and the disturbance caused by people talking and working in groups, continued to be an issue. As there are conflicts of interest, and perception, in the way people use the library, a major effort has been made to improve group study facilities, and to identify and zone quiet areas more effectively.
In October 2007, a new collaborative learning centre, YourSpace, was opened on Level 1 of the building to provide a focus for group work and other noisy activity. Areas on the upper floors have been marked out more clearly for silent and quiet study.
Several comments were received about the introduction of return dates for book loans during the vacation periods. This was introduced on a trial basis during summer 2006, in response to a number of requests, to ensure that books taken out at the beginning of the vacations are not inaccessible to other students who need them during the vacations. Some problems were caused during the Christmas vacation at the end of 2006 for people who were unable to return books that had been recalled in time and incurred overdue charges. As a result, the return dates were altered for Christmas 2007 to remove the inconvenience. However, the principle that books should be returned or renewed during longer vacations has been established and is working well for most customers.
A number of people have complained about the administrative charge of £3 which is made for the production of a day-pass to the library is they forget to bring their Smartcard. As this has been an issue for a couple of years, the procedure has now been modified so that people are allowed entry to the building without charge on the first occasion, but a charge is made on subsequent visits if they still do not present a smartcard. However, it is felt to be important to ensure that people are able to identify themselves, for everyone's safely and security, and while the production of a day-pass provides that ID temporarily, there is an administrative cost involved. The library feels that the change it has made ensures that people are not penalised unfairly if they forget a card once, but the new arrangement will be kept under review.
One of the largest groups of comments form customers consists of compliments and thanks for the service provided to them by the library's staff. The comments are always passed on to the colleagues concerned, and it is always pleasing to see that so many take the time and trouble to express their gratitude.
Particular issues which emerged from an analysis of the comments received are listed below.