Category Archives: Using the Library

Take a Break goes greener!

The Library is Listening!

Thanks to all of you who took the time to share your thoughts on our Take a Break scheme, introduced in November 2013 to help ensure fairer access to high demand spaces in the popular Forum Library.  Generally you told us that you liked the scheme and thought it was a good idea but one concern that several respondents raised was about sustainability.

It’s true that the one use cards were not very green, that’s why we’ve redesigned them! Each Take a Break card can now be used up to 20 times – much better for the environment!

Watch out for the new style cards around our libraries. Please take one and reuse it until it’s full. Just write the time you leave in the next available slot on the back of the card and make sure you return within one hour.

When the card is full don’t put in for landfill make sure it goes in one of our designated paper/card bins  to ensure it gets recycled.

You can read more about the Take a Break scheme on our website. If you you’d like to comment or offer suggestions on this or any of our library policies or services please get in touch – we really do listen!


Taking a Break Scheme: the story so far

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.

“Great Idea”
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

Your concerns:

“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 .

Think Recall! Your guide to vacation borrowing


Image by Mei Teng courtesy of

Enjoy the festive season but don’t forget to Think Recall over the break!

Christmas is coming! The decorations are up in the Forum, and we’ve even got lights in the Forum Library’s very own Seal Courtyard – looking lovely! But as the end of term approaches, as well as planning any festivities, it’s also time to start thinking about how you might want to manage your library borrowing over the coming vacation period.

What you need to know: The Forum Library is open 24/7 throughout the holiday (see our opening hours page for information on Library staff availability) and our loan rules continue as usual during this period.

What does this mean for you?

This means for the many students and staff who arrive or choose to stay in Exeter during holiday periods we are here and open to provide help, support, study space and the resources you need. If you are going away from Exeter you are welcome to take books with you (though we advise against taking Library resources abroad) but do keep in mind that you will be responsible for renewing any items you borrow regularly throughout the vacation. You can do this online by logging in to your Library record.  Please remember also that books can still be recalled by other library users.

How do recalls work? 

If a book on loan to you is requested by another Library user, you will get an email informing you of this and providing a new date by which to return it. So it is important you check your email regularly if you are borrowing stock during the holidays. Recalled books cannot be renewed and may be due earlier than the original due date. With normal loan books, you should get a week within which to return the item. This should be sufficient time to return the items by UK post if necessary and you are welcome to do this.  Library books should not be taken overseas.

Our recall policy exists to ensure fair access to our stock for all library users, so don’t forget if the books you need are on loan you can recall them at any time of year. Learn more about how to place reservations here.

As always if you need help, or have any questions about managing your library record do please get in touch: 

5 Top tips for smart borrowing during the festive period:

  • Return any books you don’t need before you leave Exeter. Please don’t leave Library resources locked up in your room or office over the break, it isn’t fair to take them out of circulation if you’re not using them either and they could get recalled by other borrowers.
  • If you do take our normal or short loan books away with you, be sure to renew them regularly. We advise against taking Express Collections items away from Exeter.
  • Think Recall! Any item you borrow can be recalled by another user so please check your email regularly and be prepared to return items by post if necessary.
  • Staff are here to help! If you have any problems or questions about recalls, renewals or anything else please get in touch as soon as possible. Library staff available to help every day throughout the vacation period with the exception of December 25th, December 26th and January 1st. On these days the Forum Library is available for study and self-service borrowing via swipe card access only.
  • Don’t forget, the Library is so much more than just printed books: we also provide access to over 100 research databases, more than 30,000 electronic journals and thousands of e-books. All our electronic resources are available off campus, so you may not need to take hard copies away with you!

“Taking a Break” scheme coming very soon

Watch out for cards and holders like these all around the Library

We know that the Forum Library can get very busy during peak times of day, especially as deadlines approach. We’ve listened to your comments and have already added 160 new study spaces since the start of term. But you also told us that it causes problems when other Library users take up more than one space or “save seats” by leaving their belongings and then going away.

In response, we have worked closely with the Student Guild Representatives and individual students to come up with guidelines for using study seats in our Libraries and study centres.

Together, we ask that you follow these basic guidelines when working for extended periods.

1)    Use one seat when working; leave enough room for someone else to sit and work

2)    It is OK to take a break for about an hour (60 minutes) if you are working in the library for a long time; but always use one of our Taking a Break cards so others know you are coming back and return promptly within one hour.

3)    Remember the Library is a public space! Always take valuables with you or lock them in a Forum Locker.

You’ll start seeing posters and Taking a Break Card holders all around the Forum Library from Sunday 24th November onwards. Please keep the scheme in mind and make our Library a better place to study for everyone by following the rules and using a card to indicate if you are taking a short break. It’s healthy to take a short break from study now and then and we do want support healthy study habits for all our users but if you plan to leave the Library for longer than 1 hour please be fair and clear the space for another student to use.

If you don’t leave a Taking a Break card, or do not return within one hour then your belongings may be moved to make space for other Library users.

Library staff are here to help, so always ask us if you’re looking for somewhere to study and we’ll help you find a seat.

The Taking a Break scheme has been developed in association with our users and with the Guild but we are keen for further feedback. If you have any questions or comments on taking a break while studying then let us know! You can , Tweet to us @Exeterunilib, comment on our Facebook page, or why not fill in one of the comments cards that can be found across all our Library sites and study centres.

We also offer more detailed information about what to expect in our library and study spaces on our web pages – so please do have a look and help make your Library a great place to be for everyone.


Donate your Library Fines to Children in Need on 15th November

Friday 15th November is Children in Need Day.  If you haven’t encountered this charity initiative before it’s a wonderful fundraising project, led by the BBC, that seeks to raise money for disadvantaged children right across the UK. For a glimpse of how money raised in the past has helped children and young people right here in the South West why not click here.

Here in the Library we’re keen to do our bit to support the appeal, so on Friday November 15th we’ll be giving you the chance to donate any Library fines you have outstanding on your record to the Children in Need appeal.

How it works:
Rather than paying your fines money to us we will be inviting you to donate the equivalent amount to the Children in Need Charity appeal. We will then clear the fine from your record.  Donations must be cash only and made in person at any one of our Library desks (The Forum, Research Commons or St Luke’s). We regret that we cannot accept charity donations via credit card or using our online payment system.  Library staff will also be collecting, so if you don’t have a fine to pay but would still like to donate you will be welcome to do so – please see Library staff.

We hope you’ll take this opportunity to give generously, support worthy causes, and clear any outstanding fines on your Library record!

4 Tips for Responsible Borrowing

Library Know-How: Renewing Items and Avoiding Fines

None of us like getting Library fines; but at the same time nobody likes missing out on the resources they need to for their next assignment. Our fines exist to ensure that everyone has fair access to the books they need, and that items are renewed regularly or returned promptly either if no longer required or if they’ve been requested by another user. Managing your borrowing responsibly is one of the ingredients of a successful degree. With self-service machines, email reminders and online renewals we try to make it as easy as possible for you to keep track of your borrowing and the good news is that with a little care you can get the most out of Library resources while avoiding fines altogether. The best way to do this is to understand our loan periods and renewals system, so here’s a handy guide to help you do just that.

Key tips for responsible borrowing:

1.       Know the loan rules

Library resources will issue for different time periods:

Normal Loans: 28 days

Short Loans:  1 week

Express Collections (Books and Locker Keys): 24 hours and over the weekend

Express Collections (DVDs): Undergraduates – 24 hours and over the weekend;  Postgraduates – 72 hours (3 days); Staff – 120 hours (5 days)

When you issue an item you should always get a receipt which will tell you the date and (if it’s an Express Collection s item) also the time it is due back.

Check your receipts for the due date and time of Express Collections items

You can also check your record online to see when items are due. To do this either click the ‘patron record’ button on the Library Catalogue or log-in to MyExeter and just click the ‘Library’ tab. Select ‘Your Library Record’ > ‘Items currently checked out’. This will show a list of what you have and when they are due. You can choose to sort by due date, to see which items need to be returned or renewed soonest.

You can renew items as many times as you need so long as they haven’t been requested by another user. If a book gets recalled the loan period will shorten automatically giving you one week to return it (unless there is already less than a week left until it is due, in which case you simply won’t be able to renew at the end of that period).


2.       Check your university email regularly

We will send you an email if your book gets recalled informing you of its new due date so it’s important you check your University email regularly.

We also send out email reminders when your Normal and Short Loan books are due for renewal and again if they go overdue. Please note that due to the short nature of the loan period we can’t currently send advance reminders for Express Collections items. Lots of borrowers find it handy to set an alarm on their phone or computer to remind them to renew these items.


3.       Renew Online

Your receipt, your online Library record and the email reminders we send should help ensure that you know when you’re reaching the end of your loan period. If you still need the items you can always renew them so long as nobody else has requested them. The best way to renew is online, via your Library Record. Log in to your Library Record, either through the Library Catalogue or via the Library tab on MyExeter.

You’ll see a list of the items you have on loan, together with the date they’re due for return.

To renew all of your items, click Renew All.

If you only want to renew some of them, tick the boxes by the items you want to renew and click Renew Selected.

You’ll be asked to confirm you wish to renew these items. Click Yes to complete the process.

If the renewal was successful, the Status column will clearly state ‘renewed’ and show the new due date. If any items cannot be renewed, a message will appear to warn you of this and the status column will show the reason why.

Need more guidance? Why not watch our video demonstration of online renewal?


In most cases you should be able to renew your items yourself by logging in online. If you are unable to renew online it is likely to be for one of the following reasons:

  • You have normal or short loan items that are more than 7 days overdue, or Express Collections items that are more than 7 hours overdue. Remember our 7 day/7 hour rule. These items are now very overdue and we need to hear from you to make sure you still have the books and to address any problems before further renewal will be possible. If you have items that have hit this level of being overdue please contact us as soon as possible! Further renewal may will still be possible but we need to hear from you at this point so don’t delay.
  • You have outstanding fines of over £10. It is best practice to pay off any fines – however small – as soon as they accrue but if you have fines of over £10 your library record will be blocked until the debt is reduced. If need to renew but have fines of over £10 please pay off the fine first (see below for how to do this). Once the fine is paid you will then be able to log in and renew online as described above.
  • Your item has been recalled by another user. All Library resources are subject to recall and can be reserved by other users. If your item has been requested renewal will not be possible and you will need to return it by the date shown on your library record (which may be different from the original issue date shown on your receipt) . In these situations the item will clearly show as ‘not renewed’ when you go through the renewal process. Please contact Library staff if you have any questions or would like additional advice about any recalled items.

Don’t forget you can also renew by phone: 01392 723867, by email  or in person at any of the Library desks. If you have any trouble with the online system please contact us as soon as possible.


4.       If you do get fines…

The above tips should help you keep on top of Library borrowing and avoid items going overdue, but if you do get a fine, these are the things you need to know.

Because fines exist to ensure fair circulation, they are calculated according to demand:

Normal loan: 20p per day

Journals: 20p per day

Short loan: £1 per day

Express Collections: £1 for the first hour and 50p per hour thereafter

DVD       £1 for the first hour and 50p per hour thereafter

All Overdue Recalled Items: £1 per day

If you do have an overdue item, the first thing to do is stop fines going up any further by returning it, renewing online (for items less than 7 days overdue, or 7 hours overdue in the case of Express Collections items)  or contacting us to request a renewal (if your items have already exceeded the 7 day/ 7 hour rule). At the point it is returned or renewed the fine will add to your account. You can check your fines via your Library record, or on any of the self-issue machines on the Library.


Our issue machines will tell you if you have any fines

Fines and borrowing:

Library fines should always be paid off as soon as possible and remember that fines of over £10 will prevent you from borrowing or renewing further items. Fortunately, it’s quick and easy to pay your fines online with a credit or debit card: simply visit the fines payment site and follow the onscreen instructions. Always click on the “Finish” button at the top or bottom of the payment summary once you are done (don’t just close the browser!)   Please note minimum online payment of £1.

As well as paying online 24 hours a day you can also pay fines in the following ways:

By cash, cheque, credit or debit card at the Forum Library or St Luke’s Library during their desk opening hours.

By cash or cheque only at Research Commons during their desk opening hours.


As always, Library staff are here to help so if have any questions or concerns about loan periods, fines or anything else for that matter do get in touch!


Behaviour in Library Spaces


Help us make your Libraries great places to study by respecting our rules and, above all, respecting the needs of other Library users!

We understand that your study needs will differ throughout the peaks and troughs of the academic year: sometimes you need to work as a group, other times to get your head down and really focus in silence. We offer spaces to accommodate both these and other study needs. Here’s a guide to help you find the right study space for your needs and to ensure you are using it appropriately.

What do you need?

“Help! I’ve got a deadline! I need somewhere I can really sit and concentrate!”

One of the Forum Library Silent Study rooms: all drinks should have lids

Where to go:

Try one of our Silent Study spaces!

There are dedicated silent study rooms on all 3 floors of the Forum Library, in Research Commons  the  Main Reading Room and levels -1 and -2 are for silent study, while at St Luke’s Library  the top floor study room is devoted to silent working.

Make Silent Study work for you and for others:

  • No conversation: we expect silent spaces to be just that!
  • No sound from headphones: it’s fine to wear headphones but ensure your music is at a low enough volume that no sound escapes to disturb others
  • All drinks must have lids
  • Set mobile phones to silent or vibrate and if you need to answer your phone please leave the room to do so.
  • Cold, unobtrusive  food only (nothing hot, odorous or noisy to eat/unwrap). We understand that everyone needs a snack from time to time but eating food in silent areas must not disturb others so why not have a break and take food to a breakout space instead?

Library staff regularly patrol silent areas to ensure these rules are being respected but if you are being disturbed by noise in a silent study area then do let us know as soon as possible so that we can deal with the problem. We’re in the process of setting up a text alert service for noise problems. This will go live in time for the revision period: watch this space for further details!

What do you need?

“We need somewhere we can work together or our presentation skills”

Where to go:

Group work room in the Amory Study Centre, you can book these online

Try one of our designated Group Study spaces

Drop in group spaces are available on all 3 floors of the Forum Library, while St Luke’s Library offers group rooms on the first floor and pods on the gallery st floor at  pods on the gallery.

If you’d prefer to book your group space in advance there are a number of rooms available through the student room bookings system, including Amory Study Centre rooms 003A – 003E,  Forum Student Services Centre Interview Rooms (bookable 5pm – 8pm Monday to Friday; and 10am – 3pm Saturday) and St Luke’s Student Presentation Room and group work room.

Make Group Study work for you and for others:

  • Practise group work and presentations
  • Conversation is allowed but please ensure behaviour and olume is reasonable for a study environment
  • All drinks must have lids
  • Cold food only and please remove any rubbish
  • Remember to adjust your volume and do not disturb others when moving between different areas
  • No alcohol is allowed in library spaces

If you need help using the Student Group Work areas, or would like guidance on how to book these spaces online please ask Library staff.

What do you need?

Breakout area in Research Commons

“We just want to chat and compare lecture notes over a cup of coffee”

For a less formal learning environment try one of our Breakout Spaces

These include: Forum Library Lounge and Balcony, Research Commons Breakout Space or St Luke’s Library first floor kitchen area.


Make the Breakout Spaces work for you and for others:

  • Ideal for informal social learning or taking a break
  • Comfortable seating in more relaxed arrangements
  • Food and drink  are permitted here with vending facilities available but please clean up after yourselves
  • Recycle all your rubbish using the bins provided
  • Respect the space and ensure behaviour remains appropriate
  • The consumption of Alcohol is not permitted

It’s healthy to take a break! Breakout spaces are for you to enjoy; help control noise in quieter areas by bringing your food and casual conversations here.




What about the rest of the Library?

Library computer clusters are intended for quiet learning


Any Library space not specifically  designated as Silent, Group or Breakout is for Quiet study.

This means that the Library is intended to be  quiet environment: hushed conversations, asking for help, finding what you need on the shelves, using printers, all of these create studious buzz, so some noise is inevitable but respect the needs of other students, control your volume and take group work or casual chats to more appropriate spaces.

Make Quiet Spaces work for you and for others:

  • Keep conversations to a minimum
  • Keep noise from your computer or mobile device to a minimum and always wear headphones if you are viewing a film or lecture online
  • All drinks must have lids and no alcohol please
  • Cold food only and please remove any rubbish to the landfill and recycle bins provided
If you are being disturbed by unreasonable noise in any of our library spaces please do let Library staff know as soon as possible – we’re proud of our spaces and keen to help make sure  they’re being used appropriately so that everyone can get the best out of them!

Full details of our library behaviour policy can be found online here. Do please have a look and abide by these simple rules which exist to ensure respect for all library spaces and fellow library users. If you have any questions or comments please do , we’d love to hear from you!

Coffee and cake…

On Friday 27th Sep, Library staff held a charity coffee morning in aid of the Macmillan charity, as part of a nationwide event.

Home baked goodies, such as brownies, chocolate cake, lemon polenta cake and even savoury pastries were provided by Charlotte, Amelia and Ros and the magnificent sum of £75 was raised.

The Macmillan charity supports people suffering from cancer with everything from financial advice to nurses with specialist skills to help people in their own homes, so definitely a worthwhile cause…plus it doesn’t take much to get Library staff to munch cake!

Here are some pictures to illustrate what a good time was had by all and thanks for everyone who donated and purchased raffle tickets – good luck to you all!


All the lovely goodies for the coffee morning