Answered By: Sharon Nangle Last Updated: Aug 25, 2015 Views: 50
Thank you for completing a “You Said, We did” card recently. I’m sorry you’ve experienced the problem of being accused of taking someone else’s desk.
This issue of seat hogging has been of concern to both Library staff and our users for some years now and, despite the increase in study space provision provided by the 2011/12 redevelopment project, we are still frequently full.
We’ve canvassed students for their views using our own surveys and the Students’ Association Library survey on the Library (conducted in semester one 2013/2014) and it’s clear that students are polarised in their views. Many students would argue that it’s not acceptable for someone to “reserve” a desk by leaving their belongings, and books etc at a desk for periods of time whilst they do other things, and would like the Library to do something about it. Many other students take the opposite view and argue strongly that if they are up early enough to “reserve” a seat, then that is their prerogative and they are forced into this type action because there aren’t enough seats in the building.
We’ve investigated practices at other university libraries that face similar problems; some libraries do nothing, leaving their students to sort it out amongst themselves, whereas others monitor for how long a desk appears to be unattended, leaving some kind of official “marker” on the desk which essentially acts like a parking ticket – if another user comes along and sees the marker and that it has “expired,” then they are effectively being authorised by the Library to move the other student’s belongings to the side and to occupy the desk themselves. Libraries that have adopted this practice tell us that it generally works well and there’s little debate between the students concerned.
Other libraries have been more radical and have actually deployed members of staff to physically remove students’ belongings after they’ve been deemed to be unattended for too long. Students then have to come and collect their belongings from a designated location and sometimes this would involve being issued with an additional sanction – e.g. a fine or a disciplinary warning.
We’re currently looking into what can be done here, fully aware that whatever policy we develop must be one which has the support of the majority of our users if it is to be enforceable.
Many thanks for sharing your experience, as this adds to the picture we currently have. If you’d like to discuss this further with me, please do get in touch.
Academic Liaison Librarian