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Summary of actions taken - 2012-2013

Robinson Library

General observations

During 2012-13 we received 150 comment forms from the Tell Us What You Think service. 21 forms contained compliments about services and individual members of staff. There were 21 suggestions on a range of topics, and 108 specific complaints. The number of complaints was almost identical to the previous year, although the cause of complaints has shifted significantly away from Library resources and facilities.

It is noticeable, for example, that the number of complaints about the availability of books and access to materials has declined considerably over the past few years. In 2012-13 there were only three complaints about access to stock, and no complaints at all about e-books which had figured quite prominently in the previous year. It appears that the availability of e-books, and their ease of use, has improved and has made a significant difference to students’ and researchers’ attitudes and study practices. The Books on Time service, which encourages students to request the purchase of items which are not currently available, has also been popular and made an impact on the number of complaints about the lack of specific titles.

There were also very few complaints about study facilities and overcrowding compared with previous years, following the addition of 300 extra study desks and 225 new PCs as part of a major refurbishment of the main study floors in 2011 and 2012.

The complaints that were received tended to focus on environmental and behavioural issues, and fall into three main groups:

Temperatures in the building

Complaints about temperatures (both hot and cold) occurred most frequently earlier in the year, following the installation of new heating and ventilation equipment in summer 2012. During the initial period of testing and system balancing, members of Library staff stayed in close contact with the contractors and Estates Services to relay students’ concerns and to highlight problem areas in the building. As the year went on, the incidence of problems and complaints declined considerably and we are now confident that the investment in new equipment has been successful and worthwhile.

Food and drink

There were a number of complaints through the year about people eating and drinking in the Library, particularly during busy periods. We have responded to this by improving information and signage to clarify the Library’s policy on eating and drinking and to encourage people to take refreshment in appropriate places where others will not be disturbed. We also ran a well-publicised “Clean and Quiet” campaign during the exam periods, backed up by increased patrols by Library staff, to encourage people to be more considerate in their behaviour.

One specific cause of complaint, which has been particularly problematic this year, is the availability of hot and cold drinking water. Although we invested in a new water dispenser in the Library café in summer 2012, it proved to be very unreliable, and did not meet the demand on the upper floors. We responded to this problem by installing new cold water fountains on Level 2 and 3 of the building, and replaced the unreliable hot water dispenser in the café.


The single most frequent cause of complaint during the year was noise, and the disturbance caused by other Library users’ behaviour. This was disappointing, as a great deal of effort and investment had been put into making the main study floors quieter as part of the Library refurbishment programme. However, it became apparent that the many of the complaints focused on particular areas in the Library such as PC clusters, and the overall impression received by most people is that the Library is now a much quieter place than it had been previously.

Nevertheless, the Library staff have responded to this issue by reviewing and improving signage in the PC cluster areas. They have also reintroduced a text service to encourage people to alert them to specific noise problems so that they can be addressed quickly. Also, in response to direct request from some postgraduate students for separate silent study space, a Postgraduate Study Room has been designated and refurnished in summer 2013.

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