Our “Taking a Break” Scheme has been running in the Forum Library for several weeks now. Hopefully you’re all getting used to seeing cards like this around the Forum Library:
You can find these cards in yellow-backed holders all around the Library. They’re also available at the desk by the Library reception, so why not grab one as you enter so you’ll have it ready when you need a break?
What to do:
When taking a break of up to one hour: please always leave a card, fill in the time you left and be sure to return within 60 minutes. Don’t forget to take any valuable items with you or put them in a Forum Locker.
If you will be gone longer than an hour: please clear your desk so that others can use the space.
How did we develop the scheme?
Before we introduced the scheme , we did a lot of research about what other HE organisation were doing about the problems of people saving seats while they are away. In libraries of a similar size to ours, it can be almost impossible to successfully enforce any “no saving seats at all” rules. We needed to think around the problem in another way.
We met with the Student Guild and they were clear that we needed a student led scheme that increased awareness and allowed some flexibility. They also feel very strongly that the library should increase the number of study seats available over time. We were pleased to announce additional seats at the start of this academic year – and don’t forget that during the revision period the number of available seats in the Forum Library will increase again as the Seminar wings on Level 0 and Level +1 switch to become library spaces.
We also met with individual students who had complained about the problem of saving seats and together (with all this input) we came up with the “Take a Break” idea, as promoted.
Feedback so far:
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to get in touch with Library staff and share your thoughts on this scheme. Your feedback is appreciated and we’ve been pleased by your support. Here’s a selection of youe comments so far, as well as responses to some of your questions and concerns.
“I think this ‘Take a Break’ Scheme is a fantastic idea!”
“Hopefully these new guidelines will be a good step”
Having worked with the university on the “Taking a Break” initiative, I am pleased to see it introduced! – (comment from Alex Louch (Guild VP Academic Affairs) – quoted in Exepose
“Good idea, but only if everyone uses it“
Our response: Our front line team are working very hard to implement this new system and we think it may take at least a full academic year (or more) for the scheme to prove its worth. The Student Guild are also behind the scheme. It is a big change and needs sufficient time to become part of the culture.
“an hour is too long “
Our response: Both the Library and the Guild are keen to achieve the right sense of balance and to encourage healthy study habits. It is good practice to take breaks when working to get fresh air and to eat. Students need (at most) an hour to get lunch, especially if they have to buy food, queue or use the toilet. Also, students can leave for shorter periods; one hour is the maximum permitted time away. Library staff will do more work to promote this message.
“it isn’t fair for people to leave a desk at all; if students need a break then they should give other people the chance to use the desk.”
Our response: we appreciate this concern, especially at times of highest demand but there are a number of reasons why we feel it would be unhelpful not to allow breaks:
Our consultations revealed many reasons why students need to spend extended periods of time in the Library:
- Some courses require students to spend a large proportion of their time in individual study (as opposed to in contact hours with academic staff). Many of you have told us that you prefer to spend this in the library as here you feel most motivated to get on with the work.
- Some students live off campus (or travel in on public transport) and it would not be practical for them to come in for short periods. They may need to work for long periods, fewer days per week.
- Many students explained that they need “library days” where they can work consistently on certain projects over extended periods.
All of these are reasons why we feel it’s important to support extended study periods in our spaces. But we’re keen to do so in a healthy way, which includes allowing our users to take short breaks.
We hope Library users will continue working with us to make this scheme a success.
If would like to share your thoughts on the “Taking a Break scheme” then please fill in one of the comments cards you’ll find around the Library or .