The RAI is hosting a summer school for sixth form students next week. They will be using the library for their own studies in the afternoons, and the mezzanine seating will be reserved for them while they are in the library. Please use alternative seating on the other floors if you are working in the VHL in the afternoons next week.
The RAI is welcoming the UNIQ History Summer School for sixth-form students in the week beginning 19th July. During the afternoons the students will be working in the library, and we will be reserving the seating on the mezzanine level for them. Other readers are welcome to sit there in the mornings, but please move to one of the desks upstairs in the afternoons from Monday-Thursday. There may also be some low-level discussion, so apologies in advance if there is any disruption for these few hours during the week.
Starting from today, a number of the study carrels on the first floor of the library will be reserved for specific users. This has been requested by the RAI graduate community and fits with the aims of the RAI to provide more dedicated workspace for graduates. Other readers are welcome to sit at the desks if they are not in use, but should be prepared to move if the named user turns up.
We will monitor how this works closely once we get into Trinity Term as use of the library increases. We do not want to disadvantage library users, but also do want to provide as good a service as possible to the RAI/US Studies community.
Now that Trinity Term is over it seems a good time to report on the effect of our change of policy towards the first floor study carrels this year. We received various comments and feedback from a variety of library users, and had a good number of votes on the poll we had running here on the blog. Unsurprisingly, feedback was very positive from Americanists, but more surprisingly, there was only one complaint about the new restrictions. The poll showed a more evenly spread response, with 45% voting for Americanists only, 30% for priority to Americanists and 25% for no restrictions whatsoever. From the staff point of view, the most telling indication is that we have not once been asked to intervene or move a non-Americanist, and have not had a single complaint that a reader cannot find anywhere to sit. This is despite the fact that our usage statistics show that we have been about as busy as we were last year, when there were quite a few complaints. We are therefore judging the new system a success! The first floor study carrels are therefore now available to be used on a first-come, first-served basis for most of the year (with priority to Americanists if the library becomes unexpectedly busy), but during Trinity Terms will be reserved for Americanists only.
Finally, a reminder that as of today we revert to summer vacation opening hours – Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm only.
The VHL blog is now just over six months old, and to celebrate I’ve given it a makeover. Hope you all like the new look! If you usually read our news via a feed reader you might want to drop by the actual page and take a look.
Another thing to flag up, for those of you reading our feed, is that we have a quick poll running on the blog at the moment about the Trinity Term seating issue. We’ve had a variety of comments from readers about the new system, both in favour and against, and so are canvassing opinion – if you have feelings about this one way or another, please vote in the sidebar.
Every year we see a marked increase in use of the library in Trinity Term, at times almost up to 100% capacity, due to students throughout the University needing study space in the run-up to exams. The VHL is not the only library that experiences this, but perhaps because for most of the year we are quite quiet it feels like more of a contrast, and leads to complaints every year from Americanists who suddenly struggle to find somewhere to sit and work in the VHL during this period.
In previous years we have tried to balance the conflicting needs of our readers with minimum intervention, by designating the first floor study carrels as priority desks from which non-Americanists may be asked to move if the library reaches capacity and someone needing to use our collections cannot find anywhere to sit. We have seen this as the simplest system for us to manage, and the fairest one to all readers, as intervention is only necessary if there is no alternative free seat. However it hasn’t always worked as well as we might have hoped, and so this year we have decided to try setting aside the first floor study carrels for Americanists only during Trinity Term. During this period therefore, please only use these desks if you are in the library to use our collections.
We understand that our readers have conflicting needs and opinions, and would very much like to hear from you about this. Let us know what you think about the new system as opposed to the old, or any other ideas or views you have about how best to manage our busy time of year. Comment on this blog post, or on the VHL’s page on Facebook, or let us know your thoughts by email or in the comments book at the desk. Hopefully together we’ll be able to make Trinity Term in the VHL more harmonious this year!