Summary of actions taken – 2015-16

Philip Robinson Library

Particular issues which emerged from an analysis of the comments received:

Study environment

Some concerns were raised by those that regularly use “YourSpace” when it was temporarily converted to silent study space for the summer exam period. On reflection, the conversion may have happened too early in the summer term but the additional silent study spaces created proved particularly popular during May when demand for silent study was at its peak. Those customers still wanting to access collaborative study space were encouraged to use the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms collaborative study space. We have now refurbished “YourSpace” for this academic year and worked with furniture suppliers to procure furniture that we can quickly transform to single study spaces to reconfigure “YourSpace” later in the term.

Library staff and services

Over the past year we have received some lovely compliments through “Tell Us What You Think” about our staff and the services they offer. It means a lot to all of the library teams to receive positive feedback as they work hard to deliver a high level of service.    

Noise in silent study areas

We have continued to receive some complaints about noise in spaces set aside for silent study. We have tried to minimize the noise caused by library tours we do for visitors, prospective and new students during vacations and weekends and will forewarn customers when we are likely to be busy with tours on University Open Days and exchange visit weeks.  We continue to monitor these spaces carefully and encourage customers to use the Library Noise Alert Service (text number:07891 484 764) to report specific issues so we can deal with these immediately.


We received a number of complaints regarding the temperature of different parts of the Philip Robinson Library during the past year. Sometimes customers have found parts of the building too cold and other times too hot. We are continuing to work with Estates Support Services team, who are responsible for maintenance and control of the building’s heating and ventilation systems, to respond to issues as they arise. Our ventilation system has also been upgraded this summer in the hope it will be able to cope better when the building is busy in the warmer months.

Cleanliness of the building

A number of customers raised concerns about the cleanliness of both study spaces and toilets. Given we are a very busy building operating 24/7 over term time, it is very difficult to keep to the level of cleanliness we would like to, especially when students are inconsiderate and leave desks in a mess with litter and uneaten food. During the summer we have improved signage to indicate where food can be eaten and we will continue to run regular campaigns to remind customers to help us to keep the library clean and tidy. We also continue to provide a range of recycling bins and have regular dialogue with our cleaning team.

Opening hours during summer vacation

Some postgraduates working on dissertations and theses over summer were eager for the library to offer more extensive opening hours, at least into the evenings and weekends. As a trial over the 2016 summer vacation we offered more staffed services over summer vacation weekends so more information and smartcard queries could be resolved on a Saturday and Sunday. We were also able to extend Friday evening and weekend opening hours until 10pm from 19th August to 2nd September. Take up of this was good so we hope to open Philip Robinson Library throughout the summer vacation until 10pm. We continue to monitor library usage each day and amend opening hours where it is affordable and appropriate to do so.

Philip Robinson Library Café

Some of those students using the library over the summer vacation also felt that the Café opening hours were inadequate. Requests were also made to make available microwaves in the café for customers to reheat their own food. Though customers are welcome to eat their own food in the café, following a previous unsuccessful microwave trial that resulted in poor cleanliness and hygiene issues, we felt we could not take this suggestion forward. All comments regarding the café have been shared and discussed with EAT@NEWCASTLE management.  It was especially nice to share all the compliments about how friendly the staff are that work in the café.

Wi-Fi Issues

Generally Wi-Fi availability and robustness was much better during 2015-16 following the upgrade of the libraries Wi-Fi access points. Unfortunately, the Philip Robinson Library suffered a serious network outage on Saturday 28th May following some minor electrical work. This issue could not be addressed until late afternoon which inconvenienced many students wanting to work in the Library to undertake examination preparation. Our Customer Services staff identified alternative study spaces on campus PC clusters where students were able to work until the issue was resolved.

While our IT services are designed to be as resilient as possible, there are occasions when unexpected or significant failures cannot be planned for; unfortunately, this was one of those occasions. We continue to work closely with our colleagues in the IT Services to minimize such occasions, speed up resolution times and ensure a good Wi-Fi service throughout our extensive opening hours.

Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms

Since opening the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms in January 2016, we have received lots of compliments regarding its study environments as well as how friendly the new staff are. It has been good to receive positive feedback on new facilities such as the mobile devices charging unit that is trialing for the first time. Suggestions on how we can improve the Library Rooms further have also been very helpful. Listed below are some of the major issues that have been raised via our “Tell Us What You Think” scheme.

Opening hours

We received some requests to extend the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms opening hours, especially during the summer exam period. Though it was good to note, some students wanted to start their studies at this library at 7am and unfortunately it is not feasible to open the building any earlier than 8.30am. The planning permission from the Newcastle Council we received to change the purpose of the building from office to library space places restrictions on its opening hours so we cannot offer 24/7 like the Philip Robinson Library. It would be, in any case, difficult to justify the expense both in financial and environmental terms of having both the Philip Robinson Library and Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms open through the night given their close proximity and the relatively small numbers of students choosing to study overnight.


Later opening hours were also requested of the EAT@LIBRARY ROOMS café. This was arranged for the summer exam time and vending machines have been installed which have proved popular when the café is closed.

Noise in silent study areas

We have received some complaints regarding noise in silent study areas on the second floor. As a response, we increased patrols of the silent study areas and encouraged customers to report incidents via the noise alert service (text number:07891 484 764) when staff cannot be contacted directly. We work hard to maintain constructive study environments for students wishing to study in quiet conditions.


We have worked closely with Estates Support Services to try to balance the temperature in the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms when it has been reported to be too cold or too hot. In the longer term, we hope that the heating and ventilations systems will be renewed so the temperature can be more closely monitored and maintained.

Walton Library

Suggestions for stock

13 suggestions were made for additions to the book stock. 12 of these were purchased and one, which was a very specialist item, was obtained on inter-library loan for the user. Suggestions were also made for additions to the Clinical Skills Collection, and teeth, DNA and knee models were purchased. Other items which were requested and added to stock were a reading stand, additional headphones, coloured whiteboard pens and ear plugs.

IT equipment

There were some comments on the sound quality of the cluster PCs and these were passed on to NUIT for resolution. One PC which was noted for its slowness was replaced. The change in access to University Library journals - previously by the ‘find it’ icon – was commented upon and instructions provided.

Walton Library environment

Requests for hot water taps and microwaves were declined as the café is very small and more equipment in there would restrict the number of seats available. A microwave would be create mess and become dirty.  A complaint about the water fountain running slowly was quickly resolved. One complaint was received regarding the cleanliness of the male toilets. The Library cleaning team had been understaffed for a number of months. Fortunately we now have a new member of staff and there have been no further issues regarding cleanliness. One complaint was received regarding the number of leaks from the roof in the Library. This has been an ongoing issue for a number of years now and as soon as one leak is fixed another seems to appear.

Two complaints were made about noise in the study areas. We have introduced a text alert service for noise this year and there have been no complaints since.

Staff compliments

We had a number of compliments about the service and staff which were passed on to the Library staff and were gratefully received.


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