Wednesday, 24 September 2014

New design for the library entrance area and student social area.

New design for the library entrance area and student social area.

Following the request of many students for an area where they could relax and eat and also a space for group study activities, the Marshall Library team considered the challenges and options responding to this request. In addition, the library reception area of the Marshall Library hadn’t been changed since 1995/96, with a slight improvement for the staff desk area introduced in 2006. Implementing these ideas, the layout of the entrance area of the Marshall Library needed to be reviewed and restructured.

The requests were the following: 
      Make space for an area where students can relax and chat and have a lunch or coffee break. Challenges: This area needs to be outside the book collection area so that books won’t get dirty or stained and other readers aren’t disturbed by chatting or other noise. This area also needs to be separate enough from the library staff area so that noise doesn’t travel and become disruptive.
      Create a group study area which students can book for discussing and working together. Challenges: big enough for at least 6 people to work together, enclosed so that noise can’t travel and become disruptive to other library users and staff. 
Redesign the library staff area with working areas specific to tasks and workloads.
Challenges: in the current layout, some staff would sit far away from each other so that communicating has occasionally been difficult, and some members have felt more isolated, sitting ‘on their own’. Only few staff had easy and direct access to the issue desk, and not all members of staff could actually see if anybody needed help. Storage space was also a major requirement as well as letting as much daylight as possible into both areas. We also wanted to make our issue desk more accessible for wheelchair users.

After much discussion, surveys, consulting committees as well as running the plans past a focus group, the Marshall Library team came up with the following solution:

The area that currently houses the issue desk and staff area will be divided in two halves. One side will become the student social area with sofas and arm chairs as well as a ‘breakfast bar’ area with high tables and high chairs. The other half will be used by the library staff with desks and storage space distributed efficiently with easy access to the issue desk for all members of staff. An important consideration was the need to keep all shelving low so that an open view of the issue desk and the staff area is possible. The staff and student social areas will be seperated by a semi-transparent glass partition to allow light to enter both areas from both window sides while reducing noise disruption.
The issue desk will be located to the left hand side when people enter the library. It will be at desk height (75cm) with a gap at the front to allow wheelchair users to access the desk adequately. A raised part of the desk will provide for library users who need support whilst standing to lean on.
Later in 2014-15 we hope to turn our Archive Room into a group study space (as requested by students; see Library 2014 Survey). The Archive Room, located to the rear of the current staff area, will been cleared off all extra items soon, and a large table will provide enough space for up to 8 students. An AV set will be installed later on and this room will be bookable by students who wish to use it for group discussions or project work.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Significant changes ahead: borrowing after 7 October 2014

From Tuesday 7 October 2014 there will be a number of significant changes to the borrowing and fines system at the Marshall Library. If you are pressed for time, please go to which summarizes the new rules in tabular form.

Books on reading lists will be ‘Short Loan’ books (identified by orange labels, on the spine and on the cover); these can be borrowed for 2 days (and in theory one can renew them 50 times, but other readers can put a hold on such books, and you will need to return it).

The advantage of doing this is that all the non-‘Short Loan’ books (most importantly the rest of the books on open shelves) can now be on 4 weeks loan (as Basement items already had been), and we offer 5 renewals, a potential total borrowing of 20 weeks (unless – of course – someone recalls a book. In that case you have 5 working days to return the book, so please check your emails).

Loan periods for each book are strictly related to the type of item (on reading lists = ‘short loan’), not who is borrowing it. This is done for two reasons:
  1. If we have say 30 or 40 short loan copies of a book for 150-170 undergraduate students, and some of the books are out for 7 days (to Ph.D. students or lecturers), it skews the potential for a copy to become available to students, and they might not believe that putting a hold on a book makes much sense.
  2. These short loan books are on reading list for taught courses, so should not be of much interest to Ph.D. students and academics. 
If you are teaching for the Faculty and feel that you desperately will need us to supply you with a textbook copy for your teaching please contact us stating for which teaching you will need this book (and if applicable whether this is within the College or Faculty).

Changes to fines: 
they will be reduced for most volumes in the Marshall Library! The overdue charge per day for Short Loans will be £1 (so no change from the charge before, or for Open Shelf books in 2013-14), but for Open Shelf books (i.e. any book which is not a Short Loan) and Basement books it will only be 10 pence per day. As we are trialling longer opening hours in Michaelmas term on Saturdays (11:00 to 18:00), it seems to be appropriate for Saturdays to be counted as normal open days. (Before, the four hours we were open on Saturdays did not count as a ‘borrowing day’, and therefore readers were not fined).

Change to Reserve Books borrowing:
Also, following logically from this, it makes sense for Reserve Books issued on Friday afternoon (after 16:00), now to be issued until Saturday 11:00, not already until Monday 10:30. On Saturdays after 16:00, Reserve Books can be taken until Monday 10:30. If in doubt, please check your library account via or [The fines for Reserve Books will remain as they are: 50 pence per book per hour (term time), and £1 per book per day (vacation time).]

No copy of a book available to you? 
Please place a hold (on how to do this see: to make sure that you get a copy as soon as possible if all Short Loan copies are out. We have worked hard over the summer to add more copies of core textbooks at the Marshall Library, to have a better ratio between number of undergraduate students and textbooks; however, your hold will be useful for us to monitor the demand for individual titles. Alternatively, help us by suggesting that more copies of a book should be bought: please do so via
Place a ‘recall’ on Open Shelf & Basement items means that instead of a book being unavailable for up to 4 weeks, the person borrowing it will have 5 days to return the book they have borrowed. After that they will be fined £1 per day!

We hope that you will be able to see that we are trying to improve the borrowing system so that in-demand textbooks are more available to undergraduate students, and books which are of interest to only a small number of students will now be borrowable for longer.